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Comparison of Measurement-Based Methodologies to Apportion Secondary Organic Carbon (SOC) in PM2.5: A Review of Recent Studies

INERIS, Parc Technologique Alata, BP 2, 60550 Verneuil-en-Halatte, France
CNRS, EPOC, UMR 5805 CNRS, 33405 Talence, France
Université de Bordeaux, EPOC, UMR 5805 CNRS, 33405 Talence, France
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2018, 9(11), 452;
Received: 21 September 2018 / Revised: 8 November 2018 / Accepted: 11 November 2018 / Published: 16 November 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Air Quality and Sources Apportionment)
PDF [4807 KB, uploaded 16 November 2018]


Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) is known to account for a major fraction of airborne particulate matter, with significant impacts on air quality and climate at the global scale. Despite the substantial amount of research studies achieved during these last decades, the source apportionment of the SOA fraction remains difficult due to the complexity of the physicochemical processes involved. The selection and use of appropriate approaches are a major challenge for the atmospheric science community. Several methodologies are nowadays available to perform quantitative and/or predictive assessments of the SOA amount and composition. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the most commonly used approaches to evaluate secondary organic carbon (SOC) contents: elemental carbon (EC) tracer method, chemical mass balance (CMB), SOA tracer method, radiocarbon (14C) measurement and positive matrix factorization (PMF). The principles, limitations, challenges and good practices of each of these methodologies are discussed in the present article. Based on a comprehensive—although not exhaustive—review of research papers published during the last decade (2006–2016), SOC estimates obtained using these methodologies are also summarized for different regions across the world. Conclusions of some studies which are directly comparing the performances of different methodologies are then specifically discussed. An overall picture of SOC contributions and concentrations obtained worldwide for urban sites under similar conditions (i.e., geographical and seasonal ones) is also proposed here. Finally, further needs to improve SOC apportionment methodologies are also identified and discussed. View Full-Text
Keywords: aerosols; particulate matter; SOA; SOC; source apportionment aerosols; particulate matter; SOA; SOC; source apportionment

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Srivastava, D.; Favez, O.; Perraudin, E.; Villenave, E.; Albinet, A. Comparison of Measurement-Based Methodologies to Apportion Secondary Organic Carbon (SOC) in PM2.5: A Review of Recent Studies. Atmosphere 2018, 9, 452.

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