Characterisation, source-receptor modelling and fate
of organics in airborne particles

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The specific objectives of this research project are:

  • To further develop the method of Micro-Scale-Sealed-Vessel Pyrolysis Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (MSSV GC-MS) for identifying and quantifying compounds in airborne particulate matter in London.
  • To establish spatial and temporal patterns of selected organic compounds in the London Air Quality Network.
  • To determine the distribution of organic compounds in different size fractions of airborne particles.
  • To determine source profiles of organic compounds in airborne particles.
  • To determine the major sources of organics in particulate matter using multivariate receptor modelling techniques.
  • To evaluate receptor modelling techniques with respect to dispersion models.
  • To apply dispersion models to estimate the fate of organics in particulate matter.




The research is investigating organic compounds in airborne particulate matter at kerbside and urban background sites in London and in major sources using micro-scale pyrolysis GC-MS techniques. This information is being incorporated within a receptor modelling framework to estimate the proportional source contributions to airborne particulate concentrations in London. Source apportionment by this method is being evaluated using dispersion models and a dispersion modelling approach is being used to predict the fate of organics in particulate matter.

Start Date/Duration

April 1998 Two years

Lead Organisation

King’s College, London


The anticipated deliverables of this project are:

  • creation of a definitive methodology capable of accurately pinpointing and quantifying sources of airborne particulates
  • provision of a unique dataset of organics in particulate matter that will provide a stimulus for further research aimed at improving the understanding of the mechanisms of production and the fate of organics in air
  • establishment of a centre of excellence for the measurement of organic contaminants in contaminated environments
  • establishment of a new working partnership with interested parties from the academic, public and private sectors concerned with air pollution research and management.


British Atmospheric Data Centre

Local authorities

Further Details

Further information is available from the following contacts:

Lead Researcher: Dr S Smith

Tel: 0171 333 4446, Fax: 0171 333 4500, e-mail: 

URGENT Programme Manager: Graham Leeks

Tel: 01491 692203, Fax: 01491 692313, e-mail: