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Environ Sci Technol. 2018 Mar 6;52(5):2575-2585. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.7b06126. Epub 2018 Feb 14.

Molecular Characterization of Water-Soluble Humic like Substances in Smoke Particles Emitted from Combustion of Biomass Materials and Coal Using Ultrahigh-Resolution Electrospray Ionization Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry.

Song J1, Li M1,2, Jiang B1, Wei S1,2, Fan X1,3, Peng P1.

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State Key Laboratory of Organic Geochemistry , Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences , Guangzhou 510640 , P. R. China.
Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing 100049 , P. R. China.
College of Resource and Environment , Anhui Science and Technology University , Anhui 233100 , P. R. China.


Water-soluble humic like substances (HULIS) in smoke particles emitted from combustion of biomass materials and coal were characterized by ultrahigh-resolution Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry. The formulas identified were classified into four main groups: CHO, CHON, CHOS, and CHONS. The average H/C and O/C ratios are 1.13-1.33, 1.01-1.13, 1.26-1.48, 1.09-1.24 and 0.21-0.41, 0.27-0.45, 0.41-0.46, 0.44-0.61 for the CHO, CHON, CHOS, and CHONS groups, respectively. The CHO compound was the predominant component (43%-72%) of the smoke HULIS from biomass burning (BB) and coal combustion, followed by the CHON group for BB-smoke HULIS and the S-containing groups (i.e., CHOS and CHONS) for coal-smoke HULIS. These results indicate that the primary HULIS emitted from biomass burning contain a high abundance of CHON species, which appear to be made up mainly of oxidized nitrogen functional groups such as nitro compounds and/or organonitrates. The coal-smoke HULIS contained more compounds with relatively low molecular weight and high aromaticity index (AImod). They were significantly enriched in S-containing compounds with high double bond equivalent (≥4), and O/S ratios suggest that they are most likely made up of aromatic organosulfates and nitrooxy organosulfates that are usually found in polluted atmospheres. These findings imply that the primary emissions from combustion of biomass and coal fuels are potential sources of water-soluble HULIS in an atmospheric matrix and that coal combustion is an especially important source of sulfate compounds.

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