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In situ ozone production is highly sensitive to volatile organic compounds in Delhi, India

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Author(s)

  • Beth S. Nelson
  • Gareth J. Stewart
  • W. Joe Acton
  • C. Nicholas Hewitt
  • Leigh R. Crilley
  • Mohammed S. Alam
  • Ülkü A. Åahin
  • David C.S. Beddows
  • William J. Bloss
  • Eloise Slater
  • Lisa K. Whalley
  • Dwayne E. Heard
  • James M. Cash
  • Ben Langford
  • Eiko Nemitz
  • Roberto Sommariva
  • Sam Cox
  • Shivani
  • Ranu Gadi
  • Bhola R. Gurjar
  • James R. Hopkins

Department/unit(s)

Publication details

JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
DateAccepted/In press - 11 Aug 2021
DatePublished (current) - 13 Sep 2021
Issue number17
Volume21
Number of pages22
Pages (from-to)13609-13630
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The Indian megacity of Delhi suffers from some of the poorest air quality in the world. While ambient NO2 and particulate matter (PM) concentrations have received considerable attention in the city, high ground-level ozone (O3) concentrations are an often overlooked component of pollution. O3 can lead to significant ecosystem damage and agricultural crop losses, and adversely affect human health. During October 2018, concentrations of speciated non-methane hydrocarbon volatile organic compounds (C2-C13), oxygenated volatile organic compounds (o-VOCs), NO, NO2, HONO, CO, SO2, O3, and photolysis rates, were continuously measured at an urban site in Old Delhi. These observations were used to constrain a detailed chemical box model utilising the Master Chemical Mechanism v3.3.1. VOCs and NOx (NO + NO2) were varied in the model to test their impact on local O3 production rates, P(O3), which revealed a VOC-limited chemical regime. When only NOx concentrations were reduced, a significant increase in P(O3) was observed; thus, VOC co-reduction approaches must also be considered in pollution abatement strategies. Of the VOCs examined in this work, mean morning P(O3) rates were most sensitive to monoaromatic compounds, followed by monoterpenes and alkenes, where halving their concentrations in the model led to a 15.6 %, 13.1 %, and 12.9 % reduction in P(O3), respectively. P(O3) was not sensitive to direct changes in aerosol surface area but was very sensitive to changes in photolysis rates, which may be influenced by future changes in PM concentrations. VOC and NOx concentrations were divided into emission source sectors, as described by the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) v5.0 Global Air Pollutant Emissions and EDGAR v4.3.2_VOC_spec inventories, allowing for the impact of individual emission sources on P(O3) to be investigated. Reducing road transport emissions only, a common strategy in air pollution abatement strategies worldwide, was found to increase P(O3), even when the source was removed in its entirety. Effective reduction in P(O3) was achieved by reducing road transport along with emissions from combustion for manufacturing and process emissions. Modelled P(O3) reduced by ∼1/4 20 ppb h-1 when these combined sources were halved. This study highlights the importance of reducing VOCs in parallel with NOx and PM in future pollution abatement strategies in Delhi.

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Newton Bhabha fund administered by the UK Natural Environment Research Council through the DelhiFlux and ASAP projects of the Atmospheric Pollution and Human Health in an Indian Megacity (APHH-India) programme. The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the UK Natural Environment Research Council and the Earth System Science Organization, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, under the Indo-UK Joint Collaboration (Del-hiFlux). Beth S. Nelson and Gareth J. Stewart acknowledge the NERC SPHERES doctoral training programme for studentships. James M. Cash is supported by a NERC E3 DTP studentship.

Funding Information:
Financial support. This research has been supported by the Natu-

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Beth S. Nelson et al.

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