A technique for the measurement of organic aerosol hygroscopicity, oxidation level, and volatility distributions
Hygroscopicity, oxidation level, and volatility are three crucial properties of organic pollutants. This study assesses the feasibility of a novel measurement and analysis technique to determine these properties and establish their relationship. The proposed experimental setup utilizes a cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) counter to quantify hygroscopic activity, an aerosol mass spectrometer to measure the oxidation level, and a thermodenuder to evaluate the volatility. The setup was first tested with secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formed from the ozonolysis of α-pinene. The results of the first experiments indicated that, for this system, the less volatile SOA contained species that had on average lower O : C ratios and hygroscopicities. In this SOA system, both low- and high-volatility components can have comparable oxidation levels and hygroscopicities. The method developed here can be used to provide valuable insights about the relationships among organic aerosol hygroscopicity, oxidation level, and volatility.