Babu Priyadharshini1, Shubha Verma 1, Abhijit Chatterjee2, Sudhir Kumar Sharma3, Tuhin Kumar Mandal3

Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, Kharagpur 721302, India
Environmental Sciences Section, Bose Institute, Kolkata 700054, India
CSIR-National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi, 110012, India

Received: January 19, 2018
Revised: July 20, 2018
Accepted: October 6, 2018
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Cite this article:
Priyadharshini, B., Verma, S., Chatterjee, A., Sharma, S.K. and Mandal, T.K. (2019). Chemical Characterization of Fine Atmospheric Particles of Water-Soluble Ions and Carbonaceous Species in a Tropical Urban Atmosphere over the Eastern Indo-Gangetic Plain. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 19: 129-147.


  • Fine aerosol particles (PM1.6) were chemically characterized at Kolkata.
  • A simultaneous but discrete collection of WSII and CA was done using a devised SAS.
  • Rise in SO42– in winter and of NO3 concentration in summer months was observed.
  • Influence of biomass burning emissions on WSII prevalent during October and April.
  • Probable sources of carbonaceous aerosols (OC and EC) were identified.


Ambient fine aerosols and their sources were evaluated in an eastern Indian megacity, Kolkata (KOL), from September 2010 to August 2011. A submicron aerosol sampler (SAS) with two stage stacked filter units (SFU) was devised for simultaneous but discrete collection of water-soluble inorganic ions (WSII) and carbonaceous aerosols (CA; elemental carbon (EC) and organic carbon (OC)). Characteristics of the WSII and CA were identified using ion chromatography and an OC-EC analyzer, respectively, adopting the Interagency Monitoring of PROtected Visual Environments (IMPROVE-A) protocol. The mean annual concentrations of the WSII showed a predominance of cations (anions), consisting of Ca2+, Mg2+, and Na+ (Cl, NO3, and SO42–), with secondary aerosols (NH4+, NO3, and SO42–) and Ca2+ each constituting 25% and 30%, respectively, of the total WSII (TWSII). The highest mean monthly concentration of SO42– and NO3 was observed during the winter month of February and the summer months of March and May, respectively. A pronounced peak in the monthly mean for the non-sea salt-K+ (nss-K+) concentration was noticed during October and April, implying the strong influence of biomass burning emissions during these months. Among the sea salt (SS), anthropogenic (AN), and dust (DT) sources of the TWSII, a predominant contribution from DT in August and from AN in November, April, and May was inferred. The mean annual concentration of OC was three times higher than that of EC, with 43% of it being secondary OC. Whereas the major sources of OC were inferred to be paved dust, coal combustion, and biomass burning, those of EC were industrial and motor-vehicle non-exhaust emissions, coal combustion, and motor vehicle exhaust.

Keywords: Water-soluble inorganic ions; Carbonaceous aerosols; OC-EC ratio; Source apportionment.


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