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J Air Waste Manag Assoc. 2003 Jul;53(7):816-28.

Differences between weekday and weekend air pollutant levels in southern California.

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  • 1Envair, Albany, California 94706, USA.


Ambient air quality data were analyzed to empirically evaluate the effects of reductions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions on weekday and weekend levels of ozone (O3; 1991-1998) and particulate NO3- (1980-1999) in southern California. Despite significantly lower O3 precursor levels on weekends, 20 of 28 South Coast Air Basin (SoCAB) sites (28 of all 78 southern California sites) showed statistically significant higher mean O3 levels on Sundays than on weekdays (p < 0.01); 49 of the remaining 50 sites showed no significant differences between mean weekday and Sunday peak O3 levels. We also observed no statistically significant differences between mean weekday and weekend concentrations of particulate NO3- or nitric acid (HNO3, the precursor of particulate NO3-). Averaged over sites, the mean Sunday NOx and nonmethane hydrocarbon concentrations were 25-41% and 16-30% lower, respectively, than on weekdays. Site-to-site differences between weekend and weekday mean peak hourly O3 levels were related to whether O3 formation was limited by the availability of NOx. A thermodynamic equilibrium model predicts that particulate NO3- levels would decrease in response to a reduction of HNO3, and that particulate ammonium NO3- formation was not limited by the availability of ammonia. The similarity of mean weekday and weekend levels of NO3- therefore did not result from limitations on the formation of particulate NO3- from its precursor, HNO3.

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