Ultrafine nitrate particle events in Baltimore observed by real-time single particle mass spectrometry

Michael P. Tolocka, Derek A. Lake, Murray V. Johnston, Anthony S. Wexler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Ambient particles in Baltimore, Maryland were characterized from April through November 2002 using the real-time single particle mass spectrometer, RSMS III. When particles containing nitrate were examined, two types of ultrafine particle events were revealed: a large burst of nominally "pure" nitrate particles in the 50-90nm size range, and a smaller (and less frequent) burst of "pure" particles in the 50-90nm size range that grew to 110-220nm with time. Coincident with both of these events was an increase in the number of mixed composition particles containing nitrate, suggesting that they were formed by condensation of ammonium nitrate onto pre-existing particles. Meteorological variables, particle number concentrations and continuous nitrate mass measurements were compared to the single particle data. Number and mass concentrations estimated from RSMS III correlated well with similar measurements with other techniques. Ultrafine nitrate particle events were observed during periods of low temperature and high relative humidity as expected from ammonium nitrate equilibrium considerations. During these events, the partitioning of ammonium nitrate to the particle phase strongly influenced the particle number concentration as well as the chemical composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3215-3223
Number of pages9
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number20
StatePublished - Jun 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Ambient aerosol nitrate mass spectrometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution


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