Johan Martinsson This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1, Moa K. Sporre2, Guillaume Pédehontaa-Hiaa1, Hafiz Abdul Azeem3

1 Medical Radiation Physics, Department of Translational Medicine, Lund University, Box 118, SE-22100, Malmö, Sweden
2 Division of Nuclear Physics, Lund University, Box 118, SE-22100, Lund Sweden
3 Centre for Analysis and Synthesis, Department of Chemistry, Lund University, Box 118, SE-22100, Lund, Sweden


Received: February 19, 2020
Revised: September 7, 2020
Accepted: September 8, 2020

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||  

Cite this article:

Martinsson, J., Sporre, M.K., Pédehontaa-Hiaa, G. and Azeem, H.A. (2020). On the Relationship of Biogenic Primary and Secondary Organic Aerosol Tracer Compounds on the Aethalometer Model Parameters. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20: 2654–2668.


  • Establishment of aethalometer model C-parameters must be conducted for several years.
  • Biogenic tracers correlated with aethalometer model residual carbon.
  • MBTCA showed seasonally correlation to BC from fossil fuel combustion.


The aethalometer model has shown to offer a fast, inexpensive and robust method for source apportionment. The method relies on aerosol light absorption attribution, mass balance of the total carbon and results in a fraction of unaccounted, residual carbon that has been associated to biogenic carbon due to its presumably non-light absorbing properties. This residual carbon and its relation to tracers of biogenic primary and secondary organic aerosol was investigated at a rural measurement station in Sweden. Special focus is devoted to 3-methyl-1,2,3-butanetricarboxylic acid (MBTCA), a second-generation oxidation compound in biogenic secondary organic aerosols. The results show that the residual carbon and the biogenic tracers show a high degree of correlation and that the tracers were highly seasonally dependent with largest carbon contributions during summer. MBTCA showed positive correlation with the aethalometer model derived absorption coefficients from fossil fuel carbonaceous aerosol, stressing the suspicion that biogenic aerosol might be falsely apportioned to fossil fuel carbon in the aethalometer model. MBTCA showed an increasing degree of correlation with higher aethalometer absorption coefficient wavelengths. However, spectrophotometric analysis revealed that the ambient concentrations of MBTCA are most likely to low to give a significant response in the aethalometer. These results support the application of MBTCA as a molecular tracer for biogenic secondary organic aerosol and indicates that a large fraction of the aethalometer model residual carbon is of biogenic origin. Future studies should investigate the light absorbing properties of precursor monoterpenes such as α-pinene, their oxidation products and eventual influence on the aethalometer model.

Keywords: Aethalometer; Source apportionment; Biogenic aerosol.

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.