Formation of Secondary Organic Aerosols Through Photooxidation of Isoprene

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Science  20 Feb 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5661, pp. 1173-1176
DOI: 10.1126/science.1092805

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Detailed organic analysis of natural aerosols from the Amazonian rain forest showed considerable quantities of previously unobserved polar organic compounds, which were identified as a mixture of two diastereoisomeric 2-methyltetrols: 2-methylthreitol and 2-methylerythritol. These polyols, which have the isoprene skeleton, can be explained by OH radical–initiated photooxidation of isoprene. They have low vapor pressure, allowing them to condense onto preexisting particles. It is estimated that photooxidation of isoprene results in an annual global production of about 2 teragrams of the polyols, a substantial fraction of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimate of between 8 and 40 teragrams per year of secondary organic aerosol from biogenic sources.

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