Aging of organic aerosol: bridging the gap between laboratory and field studies

Annu Rev Phys Chem. 2007;58:321-52. doi: 10.1146/annurev.physchem.58.032806.104432.


The oxidation of organics in aerosol particles affects the physical properties of aerosols through a process known as aging. Atmospheric particles compose a huge set of specific organic compounds, most of which have not been identified in field measurements. Laboratory experiments inevitably address model systems of reduced complexity to isolate critical chemical phenomena, but growing evidence suggests that composition effects may play a central role in the atmospheric aging of organic particles. In this review we seek to address the connections between recent laboratory studies and recent field campaigns addressing the aging of organic aerosols. We review laboratory studies on the uptake of oxidants, the evolution of particle-water interactions, and the evolution of particle density with aging. Finally, we review field data addressing condensed-phase lifetimes of organic tracers. These data suggest that although matrix effects identified in the laboratory have taken a step toward reconciling laboratory-field disagreements, further work is needed to understand the actual aging rates of organics in ambient particles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols / chemistry*
  • Organic Chemicals / chemistry*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Ozone / chemistry
  • Research Design*
  • Time Factors


  • Aerosols
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Ozone