Jinting Yu, Caiqing Yan, Yue Liu, Xiaoying Li, Tian Zhou, Mei Zheng 


SKL-ESPC and BIC-ESAT, College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China



Received: November 29, 2017
Revised: June 6, 2018
Accepted: June 7, 2018
Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2017.11.0536  


Cite this article:
Yu, J., Yan, C., Liu, Y., Li, X., Zhou, T. and Zheng, M. (2018). Potassium: A Tracer for Biomass Burning in Beijing?. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 18: 2447-2459. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2017.11.0536


HIGHLIGHTS

  • Major sources of K in Beijing (coal, biomass burning, and dust) are quantified.
  • Coal combustion is a major source of K (45–69%) especially during winter haze.
  • Biomass burning will be overestimated when using K as a sole tracer.

ABSTRACT


Potassium (K) is an important component of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and has been widely used as a tracer for biomass burning around the world. However, this may not be true in Beijing, where the sources of K are much more complicated. The aim of this research is to investigate whether K can be applied as a sole tracer for biomass burning in Beijing. From 2015 to 2016, the concentrations of K across the four seasons were measured by an Xact 625 monitor, which uses X-ray fluorescence, and the concentrations of K+ during two seasons were measured by an in-situ Gas and Aerosol Composition (IGAC), which uses ion chromatography. It was found that the ratios of K/K+ and K+/PM2.5 were close to that of coal combustion, and K exhibited good correlations with trace metals associated with coal combustion (e.g., Pb, As, Se, and Zn). The ratios of K/Pb during the peak of the haze episodes were very stable (around 15.70), suggesting the influence of a major but consistent source. Therefore, it was clear that coal combustion was one of the major sources of K in Beijing. To estimate the major source contributions to K, the ratios of K/Ca and K/Pb were used to represent dust and coal combustion, respectively. From this study, coal combustion was the major source of K (45–69%), followed by biomass burning and dust. However, a seasonality effect was observed, with the highest source contributions coming from coal combustion in winter (69%), biomass burning in autumn (49%), and dust in spring (19%). This research shows that biomass burning would be overestimated in Beijing using K as a sole tracer, since coal is also a major source of the latter.


Keywords: K; Tracer; Source; Biomass burning; Coal combustion.

 



Don't forget to share this article 

 

Subscribe to our Newsletter 

Aerosol and Air Quality Research has published over 2,000 peer-reviewed articles. Enter your email address to receive latest updates and research articles to your inbox every second week.

Latest coronavirus research from Aerosol and Air Quality Research

2018 Impact Factor: 2.735

5-Year Impact Factor: 2.827


SCImago Journal & Country Rank

Sign up to AAQR Newsletter

Sign up to receive latest research, letters to the editors, and review articles, delivered to your inbox every second week!