Research Projects

Project at a Glance

Project Status: complete

Title: Review of source apportionment techniques for airborne particulate matter

Principal Investigator / Author(s): Kleeman, Michael J

Contractor: University of California, Davis

Contract Number: 00-332

Research Program Area: Atmospheric Processes

Topic Areas: Modeling


A review of source apportionment studies for airborne particulate matter reveals that unique chemical tracers are only available for a few general source categories including wood combustion, motor vehicle exhaust, coal combustion, meat cooking, crustaceous seafood cooking, candle combustion, tobacco smoke, and leaf abrasion. Unique chemical profiles can be constructed for many more sources, but their interpretation requires the uses of complex source apportionment models. Ten models that calculate the contribution that different sources make to air borne particulate matter are reviewed: Tracer Analysis, Chemical Mass Balance, Principal Component Analysis, Factor Analysis, Positive Matrix Factorization, Empirical Orthogonal Functions, Chemical Mass Balance / Factor Analysis, Target Transformation Factor Analysis, Emissions Inventory Analysis, and Source-oriented Chemical Transport Models. The mathematical basis, assumptions, and limitations for each source apportionment model are summarized. The source apportionment methods are shown to provide a continuous spectrum of capabilities with increasingly detailed information provided as the amount of input data expands.

A protocol to characterize source contributions to primary and secondary airborne particulate matter concentrations in a region of interest is recommended. Ambient data sets can first be analyzed using bilinear statistical models to identify approximate source identities and contributions. After important source profiles have been measured, linear statistical models can be applied to calculate source contributions to primary particulate matter at receptor locations. If regional source contributions to airborne particulate matter and / or source contributions to secondary particulate matter are important, emissions inventories can be developed for the region of interest and source-oriented chemical transport models can be used to identify important source contributions to these features of airborne particulate matter.


For questions regarding this research project, including available data and progress status, contact: Heather Choi at (916) 322-3893

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