Online determination of levoglucosan in ambient aerosols with particle-into-liquid sampler – high-performance anion-exchange chromatography – mass spectrometry (PILS–HPAEC–MS)
Biomass burning, such as domestic heating, agricultural, and wild open-land fires, has a significant influence on the atmosphere at the global and, especially, at the local scale. Levoglucosan has been shown to be a good tracer for biomass burning emissions in atmospheric particulate matter, and several analytical techniques have been presented for the determination of levoglucosan from filter samples. In this paper, a novel combination of a particle-into-liquid sampler (PILS) to a high-performance anion-exchange chromatograph (HPAEC) with the detection by a mass spectrometer (MS) is presented for the online analysis of levoglucosan in ambient particles. The PILS–HPAEC–MS technique enables a fast online analysis of levoglucosan from the particulate samples. The method was tested at an urban background station in Helsinki, Finland, in winter 2011. A comparison with simultaneous levoglucosan measurements from filter samples by the HPAEC–MS was performed and it showed a good agreement between the online and offline methods. Additionally, the online levoglucosan data were compared with the biomass burning tracer fragments measured by a high-resolution time-of-flight aerosol mass spectrometer (HR-ToF-AMS). As there were no local biomass burning sources close to the measurement station, online levoglucosan measurements revealed that most of the particles from biomass burning were either regionally distributed or long-range transported in the urban background of Helsinki. The average levoglucosan concentrations were relatively low (average 0.083 μg m −3) during the measurement campaign. The highest concentration peak measured for levoglucosan (1.4 μg m −3) seemed to originate from biomass burning in the Baltic countries, likely in Estonia, that was transported to Helsinki.