Particle-bound organic and elemental carbons for source identification of PM < 0.1 µm from biomass combustion

J Environ Sci (China). 2022 Mar:113:385-393. doi: 10.1016/j.jes.2021.06.015. Epub 2021 Jul 10.


Atmospheric nanoparticles (PM < 0.1 µm) are a major cause of environmental problems and also affect health risk. To control and reduce these problems, sources identification of atmospheric particulates is necessary. Combustion of bituminous coal and biomass including rubber wood, palm kernel, palm fiber, rice stubble, rice straw, maize residue, sugarcane leaves and sugarcane bagasse, which are considered as sources of air quality problems in many countries, was performed. Emissions of particle-bound chemical components including organic carbon (OC), elemental carbon (EC), water-soluble ions (NH4+, Cl-, NO3-, SO42-), elements (Ca, K, Mg, Na) and heavy metals (Cd, Cr, Ni, Pb) were investigated. The results revealed that PM < 0.1 µm from all samples was dominated by the OC component (>50%) with minor contribution from EC (3%-12%). The higher fraction of carbonaceous components was found in the particulates with smaller sizes, and lignin content may relate to concentration of pyrolyzed organic carbon (PyOC) resulting in the differences of OC/EC values. PM emitted from burning palm fiber and rice stubble showed high values of OC/EC and also high PyOC. Non-carbonaceous components such as Cl-, Cr, Ca, Cd, Ni, Na and Mg may be useful as source indicators, but they did not show any correlation with the size of PM.

Keywords: Elemental carbon; Emission factors; Organic carbon; PM<0.1 µm; Source identification.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollutants* / analysis
  • Biomass
  • Carbon / analysis
  • China
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Particle Size
  • Particulate Matter* / analysis


  • Aerosols
  • Air Pollutants
  • Particulate Matter
  • Carbon