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Particulate matter is associated with increased morbidity and mortality; its effects depend on particle size and chemical content. It is important to understand the composition and resultant toxicological profile of particulate organic compounds, the largest and most complex fraction of particulate matter. The objective of the study was to delineate the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectral fingerprint of the biologically relevant water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) fraction of size fractionated urban aerosol. A combination of one and two-dimensional NMR spectroscopy methods was used. The size distribution of particle mass, water-soluble extract, non-exchangeable organic hydrogen functional types and specific biomarkers such as levoglucosan, methane sulfonate, ammonium and saccharides indicated the contribution of fresh and aged wood burning emissions, anthropogenic and biogenic secondary aerosol for fine particles as well as primary traffic exhausts and pollen for large particles. Humic-like macromolecules in the fine particle size range included branched carbon structures containing aromatic, olefinic, keto and nitrile groups and terminal carboxylic and hydroxyl groups such as terpenoid-like polycarboxylic acids and polyols. Our study show that 2D-NMR spectroscopy can be applied to study the chemical composition of size fractionated aerosols


This article was originally published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, available at

The article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY 4.0) License.



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