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This study demonstrates a novel method for testing the hypothesis that variations in primary and secondary particle number concentration (PNC) in urban air are related to residual fuel oil combustion at a coastal port lying 30 km upwind, by examining the correlation between PNC and airborne particle composition signatures chosen for their sensitivity to the elemental contaminants present in residual fuel oil. Residual fuel oil combustion indicators were chosen by comparing the sensitivity of a range of concentration ratios to airborne emissions originating from the port. The most responsive were combinations of vanadium and sulphur concentration ([S], [V]) expressed as ratios with respect to black carbon concentration ([BC]). These correlated significantly with ship activity at the port and with the fraction of time during which the wind blew from the port.
The average [V] when the wind was predominantly from the port was 0.52 ng m−3 (87%) higher than the average for all wind directions and 0.83 ng m−3 (280%) higher than that for the lowest vanadium yielding wind direction considered to approximate the natural background. Shipping was found to be the main source of V impacting urban air quality in Brisbane.
However, contrary to the stated hypothesis, increases in PNC related measures did not correlate with ship emission indicators or ship traffic. Hence at this site ship emissions were not found to be a major contributor to PNC compared to other fossil fuel combustion sources such as road traffic, airport and refinery emissions.
Johnson, G. R., A. M. Juwono, A. J. Friend, H. Cheung, E. Stelcer, D. Cohen, G. A. Ayoko, & L. Morawska (2014) Relating urban airborne particle concentrations to shipping using carbon based elemental emission ratios, Atmospheric Environment 95:525-536.