High formation of secondary organic aerosol from the photo-oxidation of toluene
Toluene and other aromatics have long been viewed as the dominant anthropogenic secondary organic aerosol (SOA) precursors, but the SOA mass yields from toluene reported in previous studies vary widely. Experiments conducted in the Carnegie Mellon University environmental chamber to study SOA formation from the photo-oxidation of toluene show significantly larger SOA production than parameterizations employed in current air-quality models. Aerosol mass yields depend on experimental conditions: yields are higher under higher UV intensity, under low-NOx conditions and at lower temperatures. The extent of oxidation of the aerosol also varies with experimental conditions, consistent with ongoing, progressive photochemical aging of the toluene SOA. Measurements using a thermodenuder system suggest that the aerosol formed under high- and low-NOx conditions is semi-volatile. These results suggest that SOA formation from toluene depends strongly on ambient conditions. An approximate parameterization is proposed for use in air-quality models until a more thorough treatment accounting for the dynamic nature of this system becomes available.