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Environ Sci Technol. 2003 Mar 1;37(5):993-1001.

ACE-Asia intercomparison of a thermal-optical method for the determination of particle-phase organic and elemental carbon.

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  • 1Environmental Chemistry and Technology Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 660 North Park Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


A laboratory intercomparison of organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC) measurements of atmospheric particulate matter samples collected on quartz filters was conducted among eight participants of the ACE-Asia field experiment The intercomparison took place in two stages: the first round of the intercomparison was conducted when filter samples collected during the ACE-Asia experiment were being analyzed for OC and EC, and the second round was conducted after the ACE-Asia experiment and included selected samples from the ACE-Asia experiment Each participant operated ECOC analyzers from the same manufacturer and utilized the same analysis protocol for their measurements. The precision of OC measurements of quartz fiber filters was a function of the filter's carbon loading but was found to be in the range of 4-13% for OC loadings of 1.0-25 microg of C cm(-2). For measurements of EC, the precision was found to be in the range of 6-21% for EC loadings in the range of 0.7-8.4 microg of C cm(-2). It was demonstrated for three ambient samples, four source samples, and three complex mixtures of organic compounds that the relative amount of total evolved carbon allocated as OC and EC (i.e., the ECOC split) is sensitive to the temperature program used for analysis, and the magnitude of the sensitivity is dependent on the types of aerosol particles collected. The fraction of elemental carbon measured in wood smoke and an extract of organic compounds from a wood smoke sample were sensitive to the temperature program used for the ECOC analysis. The ECOC split for the three ambient samples and a coal fly ash sample showed moderate sensitivity to temperature program, while a carbon black sample and a sample of secondary organic aerosol were measured to have the same split of OC and EC with all temperature programs that were examined.

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