This dissertation is a collection of studies that investigates the issue of air pollution in the field of environmental chemistry. My thesis consists of research works done to measure the concentration of particulate matter (PM) and gas-phase species in ambient air. High concentrations of PM is a significant problem in Utah and in other regions of the world. Particles having an aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 micrometers and smaller play a crucial role in air pollution and pose serious health risks when inhaled. PM is composed of both organic and inorganic components. The organic fraction in PM ranges from 10-90% of the total particle mass. Several methods have been employed to measure the organic fraction of PM, but these techniques require extensive laboratory analysis, expensive bench top equipment, and do a poor job of capturing diurnal variations of the concentrations of ambient organic compounds. The Hansen Lab has developed a new instrument called the Organic Aerosol Monitor (OAM) which is based on gas chromatography followed by mass spectrometry detection platform for measuring the carbonaceous component of PM2.5 on an hourly averaged basis. Organic marker data collected in 2016 using the OAM was used in a Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) analysis to identify the sources of PM in West Valley City, Utah. Additionally, data was collected in Richfield and Vernal, UT in 2017 - 2018 to quantitatively monitor the composition of organic markers of PM2.5. Some previously unidentified organic compounds in PM were successfully identified during this study, including terpenes, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), diethyl phthalate, some herbicides, and pesticides. Gas-phase species play a significant role in driving the formation of air pollutants in Earth's atmosphere. Traditional gas detection methods do not provide high temporally and spatially resolved data; therefore, it becomes important to detect and measure gas-phase species both qualitatively and quantitatively to better understand the sources of air pollution. An incoherent broadband cavity enhanced absorption spectrometer (IBBCEAS) combines a broadband incoherent light source, a stable optical cavity formed by two highly reflective mirrors and a charged-coupled device (CCD) detector to quantitatively measure the gas-phase compounds present in the atmosphere. The concentrations of formaldehyde (HCHO) were measured using IBBCEAS to investigate the sources of this hydrocarbon in Bountiful, Utah during 2019. Another important species is OH radical. It is one of the most predominant oxidizing species present in the atmosphere. It is found in low concentrations, 0.1 ppt. Detecting concentrations this low is challenging. A new IBBCEAS instrument has been designed and elements of this instrument were tested by measuring the OH overtones in a variety of short chained alcohols. A set of experiments were conducted to measure the absorption cross-sections for the 5th and 6th OH vibrational overtones in a series of short chained alcohols by IBBCEAS. Because OH radical's lowest energy electronic state occurs in the same wavelength region (i.e., 308 nm) that SO2 absorbs (300-310 nm), a study was conducted in which the concentrations of SO2 were measured using an IBBCEAS and compared with a commercially available SO2 monitor.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry



Date Submitted


Document Type





particulate matter, gas-phase species, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, organic aerosol monitor, incoherent broadband cavity enhanced absorption spectroscopy, radicals, volatile organic compounds, source apportionment, secondary organic aerosol, positive matrix factorization