Diesel-related hydrocarbons can dominate gas phase reactive carbon in megacities

Hydrocarbons are key precursors to two priority air pollutants, ozone and particulate matter. Those with two to seven carbons have historically been straightforward to observe and have been successfully reduced in many developed cities through air quality policy interventions. Longer chain hydrocarbons released from diesel vehicles are not considered explicitly as part of air quality strategies and there are few direct measurements of their gaseous abundance in the atmosphere. This study describes the chemically comprehensive and continuous measurements of organic compounds in a developed megacity (London), which demonstrate that on a seasonal median basis, diesel-related hydrocarbons represent only 20–30 % of the total hydrocarbon mixing ratio but comprise more than 50 % of the atmospheric hydrocarbon mass and are a dominant local source of secondary organic aerosols.

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