Secondary aerosol formation in incense burning particles by O3 and OH oxidation via single particle mixing state analysis

Zhancong Liang, Liyuan Zhou, Xinyue Li, Rosemarie Ann Infante Cuevas, Rongzhi Tang, Mei Li, Chunlei Cheng, Yangxi Chu, Patrick K H Lee, Alvin C K Lai, Chak Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Incense burning is a common religious activity that emits abundant gaseous and particulate pollutants into the atmosphere. During their atmospheric lifetime, these gases and particles are subjected to oxidation, leading to the formation of secondary pollutants. We examined the oxidation of incense burning plumes under O3 exposure and dark condition using an oxidation flow reactor connected to a single particle aerosol mass spectrometer (SPAMS). Nitrate formation was observed in incense burning particles, mainly attributable to the ozonolysis of nitrogen-containing organic compounds. With UV on, nitrate formation was significantly enhanced, likely due to HNO3/HNO2/NOx uptake triggered by OH chemistry, which is more effective than ozone oxidation. The extent of nitrate formation is insensitive to O3 and OH exposure, possibly due to the diffusion limitation on interfacial uptake. The O3-UV-aged particles are more oxygenated and functionalized than O3-Dark-aged particles. Oxalate and malonate, two typical secondary organic aerosol (SOA) components, were found in O3-UV-aged particles. Our work reveals that nitrate, accompanied by SOA, can rapidly form in incense-burning particles upon photochemical oxidation in the atmosphere, which could deepen our understanding of air pollution caused by religious activities.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164942
JournalThe Science of the total environment
StatePublished - Jun 27 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal


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