[Karl2003a] "Use of proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometry to characterize volatile organic compound sources at the La Porte super site during the Texas Air Quality Study 2000",
Journal of geophysical research
, vol. 108, no. D16: American Geophysical Union, pp. 4508, 2003.
Proton-transfer-reaction mass spectrometry (PTR-MS) was deployed for continuous real-time monitoring of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) at a site near the Houston Ship Channel during the Texas Air Quality Study 2000. Overall, 28 ions dominated the PTR-MS mass spectra and were assigned as anthropogenic aromatics (e.g., benzene, toluene, xylenes) and hydrocarbons (propene, isoprene), oxygenated compounds (e.g., formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acetone, methanol, C7 carbonyls), and three nitrogen-containing compounds (e.g., HCN, acetonitrile and acrylonitrile). Biogenic VOCs were minor components at this site. Propene was the most abundant lightweight hydrocarbon detected by this technique with concentrations up to 100+ nmol mol−1, and was highly correlated with its oxidation products, formaldehyde (up to ∼40 nmol mol−1) and acetaldehyde (up to ∼80 nmol/mol), with typical ratios close to 1 in propene-dominated plumes. In the case of aromatic species the high time resolution of the obtained data set helped in identifying different anthropogenic sources (e.g., industrial from urban emissions) and testing current emission inventories. A comparison with results from complimentary techniques (gas chromatography, differential optical absorption spectroscopy) was used to assess the selectivity of this on-line technique in a complex urban and industrial VOC matrix and give an interpretation of mass scans obtained by “soft” chemical ionization using proton-transfer via H3O+. The method was especially valuable in monitoring rapidly changing VOC plumes which passed over the site, and when coupled with meteorological data it was possible to identify likely sources.