Seasonal composition of remote and urban fine particulate matter in the United States



[1] Speciated aerosol composition data from the rural Interagency Monitoring for Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) network and the Environmental Protection Agency's urban/suburban Chemical Speciation Network (CSN) were combined to evaluate and contrast the PM2.5 composition and its seasonal patterns at urban and rural locations throughout the United States. We examined the 2005–2008 monthly and annual mean mass concentrations of PM2.5 ammonium sulfate (AS), ammonium nitrate (AN), particulate organic matter (POM), light-absorbing carbon (LAC), mineral soil, and sea salt from 168 rural and 176 urban sites. Urban and rural AS concentrations and seasonality were similar, and both were substantially higher in the eastern United States. Urban POM and LAC concentrations were higher than rural concentrations and were associated with very different seasonality depending on location. The highest urban and rural POM and LAC concentrations occurred in the southeastern and northwestern United States. Wintertime peaks in AN were common for both urban and rural sites, but urban concentrations were several times higher, and both were highest in California and the Midwest. Fine soil concentrations were highest in the Southwest, and similar regional patterns and seasonality in urban and rural concentrations suggested impacts from long-range transport. Contributions from sea salt to the PM2.5 budget were non-negligible only at coastal sites. This analysis revealed spatial and seasonal variability in urban and rural aerosol concentrations on a continental scale and provided insights into their sources, processes, and lifetimes.