The University of Arizona

Intercomparison of 14C Analysis of Carbonaceous Aerosols: Exercise 2009

Sönke Szidat, Graham Bench, Vera Bernardoni, Giulia Calzolai, Claudia I Czimczik, Leonie Derendorp, Ulrike Dusek, Kathy Elder, Mariaelena Fedi, Johan Genberg, Örjan Gustafsson, Elena Kirillova, Miyuki Kondo, Ann P McNichol, Nolwenn Perron, Guaciara M dos Santos, Kristina Stenström, Erik Swietlicki, Masao Uchida, Roberta Vecchi, Lukas Wacker, Yanlin Zhang, Andre SH Prévôt


Radiocarbon analysis of the carbonaceous aerosol allows an apportionment of fossil and non-fossil sources of airborne particulate matter (PM). A chemical separation of total carbon (TC) into its subfractions organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC) refines this powerful technique, as OC and EC originate from different sources and undergo different processes in the atmosphere. Although 14C analysis of TC, EC, and OC has recently gained increasing attention, interlaboratory quality assurance measures have largely been missing, especially for the isolation of EC and OC. In this work, we present results from an intercomparison of 9 laboratories for 14C analysis of carbonaceous aerosol samples on quartz fiber filters. Two ambient PM samples and 1 reference material (RM 8785) were provided with representative filter blanks. All laboratories performed 14C determinations of TC and a subset of isolated EC and OC for isotopic measurement. In general, 14C measurements of TC and OC agreed acceptably well between the laboratories, i.e. for TC within 0.015–0.025 F14C for the ambient filters and within 0.041 F14C for RM 8785. Due to inhomogeneous filter loading, RM 8785 demonstrated only limited applicability as a reference material for 14C analysis of carbonaceous aerosols. 14C analysis of EC revealed a large deviation between the laboratories of 28–79% as a consequence of different separation techniques. This result indicates a need for further discussion on optimal methods of EC isolation for 14C analysis and a second stage of this intercomparison.

DOI: 10.2458/azu_js_rc.55.16314


Radiocarbon; carbonaceous aerosols; organic carbon; elemental carbon; intercomparison

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