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Multifactor colorimetric analysis on pH-indicator papers: an optimized approach for direct determination of ambient aerosol pH

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/persons/resource/persons204129

Li,  Guo
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

/persons/resource/persons101295

Su,  Hang
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

/persons/resource/persons203184

Zheng,  Guangjie
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

/persons/resource/persons203111

Kuhn,  Uwe
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

/persons/resource/persons230378

Li,  Meng
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

/persons/resource/persons101066

Klimach,  Thomas
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

/persons/resource/persons101189

Pöschl,  Ulrich
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

/persons/resource/persons127588

Cheng,  Yafang
Multiphase Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Li, G., Su, H., Ma, N., Zheng, G., Kuhn, U., Li, M., et al. (2020). Multifactor colorimetric analysis on pH-indicator papers: an optimized approach for direct determination of ambient aerosol pH. Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 13(11), 6053-6065. doi:10.5194/amt-13-6053-2020.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-9FE8-1
Abstract
Direct measurement of the acidity (pH) of ambient aerosol particles/droplets has long been a challenge for atmospheric scientists. A novel and facile method was introduced recently by Craig et al. (2018), where the pH of size-resolved aerosol droplets was directly measured by two types of pH-indicator papers (pH ranges: 0–2.5 and 2.5–4.5) combined with RGB-based colorimetric analyses using a model of G−B (G minus B) vs. pH2. Given the wide pH range of ambient aerosols, we optimize the RGB-based colorimetric analysis on pH papers with a wider detection range (pH ∼ 0 to 6). Here, we propose a new model to establish the linear relationship between RGB values and pH: pHpredict = a⋅Rnormal+b⋅Gnormal+c⋅Bnormal. This model shows a wider applicability and higher accuracy than those in previous studies and is thus recommended in future RGB-based colorimetric analyses on pH papers. Moreover, we identify one type of pH paper (Hydrion® Brilliant pH dip stiks, lot no. 3110, Sigma-Aldrich) that is more applicable for ambient aerosols in terms of its wide pH detection range (0 to 6) and strong anti-interference capacity. Custom-made impactors are used to collect lab-generated aerosols on this type of pH paper. Preliminary tests show that, with a collected particle size range of ∼ 0.4–2.2 µm, the pH paper method can be used to predict aerosol pH with an overall uncertainty ≤ 0.5 units. Based on laboratory tests, a relatively short sampling time (∼ 1 to 4 h) is speculated for pH prediction of ambient aerosols. More importantly, our design of the impactors minimizes potential influences of changed environmental conditions during pH paper photographing processes on the predicted aerosol pH. We further show that the routinely adopted way of using pH color charts to predict aerosol pH may be biased by the mismatch between the standard colors on the color charts and the real colors of investigated samples. Thus, instead of using the producer-provided color charts, we suggest an in situ calibration of pH papers with standard pH buffers.