Characterization of the single particle mixing state of individual ship plume events measured at the port of Los Angeles

Andrew P. Ault, Cassandra J. Gaston, Ying Wang, Gerardo Dominguez, Mark H. Thiemens, Kimberly A. Prather

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Ship emissions contribute significantly to gaseous and particulate pollution worldwide. To better understand the impact of ship emissions on air quality, measurements of the size-resolved chemistry of individual particles in ship emissions were made at the Port of Los Angeles using real-time, single-particle mass spectrometry. Ship plumes were identified through a combination of ship position information and measurements of gases and aerosol particles at a site 500 m from the center of the main shipping channel at the Port of Los Angeles. Single particles containing mixtures of organic carbon, vanadium, and sulfate (OC-V-sulfate) resulted from residualfuel combustion (i.e., bunkerfuel), whereas high quantities of fresh soot particles (when OC-V-sulfate particles were not present) represented distinct markers for plumes from distillate fuel combustion (i.e., diesel fuel) from ships as well as trucks in the port area. OC-V-sulfate particles from residual fuel combustion contained significantly higher levels of sulfate and sulfuric acid than plume particles containing no vanadium. These associations may be due to vanadium (or other metals such as iron) in the fuel catalyzing the oxidation of SO 2 to produce sulfate and sulfuric acid on these particles. Enhanced sulfate production on OC-V-sulfate ship emission particles would help explain some of the higher than expected sulfate levels measured in California compared to models based on emissions inventories and typical sulfate production pathways. Understanding the overall impact of ships emissions is critical for controlling regional air quality in the many populated coastal regions of the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1954-1961
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 15 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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