Predicted ultrafine particulate matter source contribution across the continental United States during summertime air pollution events
The regional concentrations of airborne ultrafine particulate matter mass (Dp<0.1 µm; PM0.1) were predicted in 39 cities across the United States (US) during summertime air pollution episodes. Calculations were performed using a regional source-oriented chemical transport model with 4 km spatial resolution operating on the National Emissions Inventory created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Measured source profiles for particle size and composition between 0.01 and 10 µm were used to translate PM total mass to PM0.1. Predicted PM0.1 concentrations exceeded 2 µg m−3 during summer pollution episodes in major urban regions across the US including Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Houston, Miami, and New York. PM0.1 spatial gradients were sharper than PM2.5 spatial gradients due to the dominance of primary aerosol in PM0.1. Artificial source tags were used to track contributions to primary PM0.1 and PM2.5 from 15 source categories. On-road gasoline and diesel vehicles made significant contributions to regional PM0.1 in all 39 cities even though peak contributions within 0.3 km of the roadway were not resolved by the 4 km grid cells. Cooking also made significant contributions to PM0.1 in all cities but biomass combustion was only important in locations impacted by summer wildfires. Aviation was a significant source of PM0.1 in cities that had airports within their urban footprints. Industrial sources, including cement manufacturing, process heating, steel foundries, and paper and pulp processing, impacted their immediate vicinity but did not significantly contribute to PM0.1 concentrations in any of the target 39 cities. Natural gas combustion made significant contributions to PM0.1 concentrations due to the widespread use of this fuel for electricity generation, industrial applications, residential use, and commercial use. The major sources of primary PM0.1 and PM2.5 were notably different in many cities. Future epidemiological studies may be able to differentiate PM0.1 and PM2.5 health effects by contrasting cities with different ratios of PM0.1∕PM2.5. In the current study, cities with higher PM0.1∕PM2.5 ratios (ratio greater than 0.10) include Houston, TX, Los Angeles, CA, Bakersfield, CA, Salt Lake City, UT, and Cleveland, OH. Cities with lower PM0.1 to PM2.5 ratios (ratio lower than 0.05) include Lake Charles, LA, Baton Rouge, LA, St. Louis, MO, Baltimore, MD, and Washington, D.C.