Title: Collaborative research: Reactions and Fate of Amines in the Atmosphere Emitted From Animal Feeding Operations

PI:  Katie Purvis-Roberts

Funding Agency:  NSF

Amount: $ 460,101

Dates:  07/2009 – 07/2011


Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is defined as all particle mass with aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 mm or less.  Health risks are associated with exposure to fine particle pollution because particles become lodged in the respiratory tract and in lung tissues.  Dockery et. al. established in the six cities study that PM2.5 mass loadings are statistically correlated with health effects such as morbidity and mortality.  Long-term exposure can result in decreased capacity of the lungs, chronic bronchitis, and premature death.  Short-term exposure may intensify lung disease, cause acute asthma and bronchitis, and in patients with existing heart problems, lead to increased risks of heart attacks and arrhythmias.

The organic fraction of aerosol particles is of particular interest for further understanding.  The major inorganic species in particles (ammonium, nitrate, and sulfate) as well as trace metals can be well characterized by established techniques, but the organic fraction is extremely complex.  Several hundred organic compounds in particles have been identified with techniques such as gas chromatography (GC).  Typical organic compounds detected in aerosol particles using chromatographic methods include n-alkanes, n-alcohols, n-alkanoic acids, alkyl-substituted aromatics, and straight-chain dicarboxylic acids.  Dozens of other compounds have been hypothesized as possibly present in particles based on their vapor pressure and water solubility.  Recent reports indicate the presence of poly-functional polymer-like compounds as well, perhaps similar to humic acids in soil.  Despite all of these accomplishments, there remain gaps in the understanding of aerosol organic carbon.

One group of compounds that has been sporadically reported in particles but generally not quantified or understood as to their form are amine and/or amine-derivative molecules.  Alkyl amines are considered volatile organic compounds (VOCs) due to their high vapor pressures (several torr) and thus are generally present in the gas-phase.  However significant evidence has appeared in the literature to show that amine-related products are present in the particulate phase.

For the term of the project, the research described here will impact beyond technical contributions. Laboratory studies of amine reactions and analysis of ambient particles will be performed by graduate students under the supervision of the principal and co-investigators. Training of several undergraduate research assistants will occur during the project. This training for students will have a strong cross-disciplinary aspect given the project goal of integrating laboratory studies of atmospheric chemistry with empirical measurements from field studies. This project will directly impact education of students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at Utah State University, the University of California Riverside, and the Claremont Colleges through research experiences.