Comprehensive PM2.5 organic molecular composition and stable carbon isotope ratios at Sonla, Vietnam: Fingerprint of biomass burning components

Dac Loc Nguyen, Kimitaka Kawamura, Kaori Ono, Shidharth Sankar Ram, Guenter Engling, Chung Te Lee, Neng Huei Lin, Shuenn Chin Chang, Ming Tung Chuang, Ta Chih Hsiao, Guey Rong Sheu, Chang Feng Ou Yang, Kai Hsien Chi, Shao An Sun

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19 Scopus citations


This study presents measurements of aerosol chemical properties at Sonla, northern Vietnam (675 m a.s.l.) during spring time, when biomass burning (BB) was very active in the northern Indochina Peninsula, as part of the 7-SEAS (Seven South East Asian Studies) campaign in 2013. The gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis of BB markers in 14 selected samples indicated that mixed softwood, hardwood, grass, and non-woody vegetation were burned. More than 50 organic compounds including levoglucosan, lignin and resin products, sugar and sugar alcohol compounds, fatty acids, phthalate esters, aromatic acids, poly-acids, and biogenic oxidation products (e.g., 2-methyltetrols, alkene triols, 3-hydroxyglutaric acid) were measured in PM2.5. Levoglucosan, a BB tracer, was the predominant species among aerosol sugars, with an average concentration of 1.62 ± 0.89 μg m–3, comprising 2.23 ± 0.5% of PM2.5 mass. For the collection period of the selected samples, backward air mass trajectories were classified into the source regions of Indochina (BBIC), southern China (BBSC), and the South China Sea (BBSS). All resolved molecular compounds show their dominance on the trajectory from BBIC, verifying the BB smoke origin of that region. Trajectory classification provides additional information, such as higher level of diethyl phthalate associated with BBSC trajectory, revealing urban or industrial influence, and more low-molecular-weight than high-molecular-weight fatty acids, indicating distributions with more microbial and lesser plant wax/vegetation burning contributions along the BBSC trajectory. In addition, we report, for the first time, stable carbon isotopic data (δ13C) for PM2.5 aerosols in northern Vietnam, which ranged from –26.6 to –25.4‰ in PM2.5, indicating contributions from burning of C3 plants and fossil fuel combustion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2618-2634
Number of pages17
JournalAerosol and Air Quality Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2016


  • Biomass burning
  • Fine aerosol particles
  • Indochina
  • Organic molecular markers
  • δC isotope


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