Characteristics of Atmospheric Organic and Elemental Carbon Particle Concentrations in Los Angeles

H. Andrew Gray, Glen R. Cass, James J. Huntzicker, Emily K. Heyerdahl, John A. Rau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

398 Scopus citations


A fine particle air monitoring network was operated in the Los Angeles area during 1982. It was found that carbonaceous aerosols accounted for typically 40% of total fine particle mass loadings at most monitoring sites. The ratio of total carbon (TC) to elemental carbon (EC) in ambient samples and in primary source emissions was examined as an indicator of the extent of secondary organic aerosol formation. It was found that TC to EC ratios at all sites on average are no higher than recent estimates of the TC to EC ratio in primary source emissions. There is little evidence of the sustained summer peak in the ratio of TC to EC that one might expect if greatly enhanced secondary organics production occurs during the photochemical smog season. The TC to EC ratio does rise by the time that air masses reach the prevailing downwind edge of the air basin as would be expected if secondary organics are being formed during air parcel transport, but the extent of that increase is modest. These results suggest that primary particulate carbon emissions were the principal contributor to long-term average fine aerosol carbon concentrations in the Los Angeles area during 1982.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-589
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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