Quantifying the equilibrium partitioning of substituted polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in aerosols and clouds using COSMOtherm
Functional groups attached to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can significantly modify the environmental fate of the parent compound. Equilibrium partition coefficients, which are essential for describing the environmental phase distribution of a compound, are largely unavailable for substituted PAHs (SPAHs). Here, COSMOtherm, a software based on quantum-chemical calculations is used to estimate the atmospherically relevant partition coefficients between the gas phase, the aqueous bulk phase, the water surface and the water insoluble organic matter phase, as well as the salting-out coefficients, for naphthalene, anthracene, phenanthrene, benz(a)anthracene, benzo(a)pyrene and dibenz(a,h)anthracene and 62 of their substituted counterparts. They serve as input parameters for the calculation of equilibrium phase distribution of these compounds in aerosols and clouds. Our results, which were compared with available experimental data, show that the effect of salts, the adsorption to the water surface and the dissolution in a bulk aqueous phase can be safely neglected when estimating the gas–particle partitioning of SPAHs in aerosols. However, for small PAHs with more than one polar functional group the aqueous phase can be the dominant reservoir in a cloud.