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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
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Research article 12 Apr 2018

Research article | 12 Apr 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Enhancements of Airborne Particulate Arsenic over the Subtropical Free Troposphere in the Springtime: Impact by South Asian Biomass Burning

Yu-Chi Lin1,2, Shih-Chieh Hsu2, Chuan-Yao Lin2, Shuen-Hsin Lin2, Yi-Tang Huang1, Yunhua Chang1, and Yan-Lin Zhang1 Yu-Chi Lin et al.
  • 1Yale-NUIST Center on Atmospheric Environment, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing, Jiangsu, China
  • 2Research Center for Environment al Changes (RCEC), Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C.

Abstract. Arsenic (As) has long been recognized as a toxic element of mainly anthropogenic origins, having adverse effects on human health. However, there is insufficient understanding regarding As released into atmosphere from biomass burning (BB). To this end, daily airborne As concentrations in total particulate matter (TSP) were determined at Mount Hehuan (24.16°N, 121.29°E, 3001ma.s.l.), Taiwan from September 2011 to September 2012. During the sampling period, As concentrations varied from 0.02 to 5.9ngm−3, with a mean value of 0.5±1.0ngm−3. Significant seasonality of As was found over the subtropical free troposphere, with a maximum concentration in the springtime. Based on backward trajectory analyses and WRF-Chem model simulations, we found the high As concentrations during the spring period were attributed to the biomass burning activities over South (S) Asia where ground water, soil and crops are severely contaminated by arsenic. A good correlation (r=0.73 p<.05) between As and potassium ion (K+, a chemical tracer of BB activities) in S Asian BB events also supported this hypothesis. During the S Asian BB events, the high As/Pb ratios (>0.2) were also observed, indicating that burning crops contaminated by lead arsenate could be a crucial candidate for extremely high As concentrations at Mount Hehuan. Finally, the net influence of BB activities on airborne As concentrations has been simply estimated by comparing the differences of As concentrations between BB and non-BB days. The result showed, on average, the contribution of BB activities over S Asia to airborne As was approximately 1.0ngm−3, which accounted 63% for total airborne As concentrations in the springtime. Moreover, a ratio of ΔAs/ΔCO (~0.00001) in the S Asian BB events was obtained. Using this value, arsenic emissions from S Asian BB activities were estimated to be 0.17tonsyr−1, causing extremely high airborne As concentrations over the subtropical free troposphere, and impacted As cycles on a regional scale.

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Short summary
Asian continent is well known a big source of airborne As in North Pacific region. Previously, high As concentrations over free troposphere in Northern Pacific region have been observed and considered as contributions of industrial emissions, especially from coal-combustion. From our study, we proposed a new concept for a potential source of high As over the subtropical free troposphere, that is, BB activities over S Asia might be an important source of airborne arsenic in the springtime.
Asian continent is well known a big source of airborne As in North Pacific region. Previously,...