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Issue 5, 2006
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Photochemical reactions in the tropospheric aqueous phase and on particulate matter

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This paper is a tutorial review in the field of atmospheric chemistry. It describes some recent developments in tropospheric photochemistry in the aqueous phase and on particulate matter. The main focus is regarding the transformation processes that photochemical reactions induce on organic compounds. The relevant reactions can take place both on the surface of dispersed particles and within liquid droplets (e.g. cloud, fog, mist, dew). Direct and sensitised photolysis and the photogeneration of radical species are the main processes involved. Direct photolysis can be very important in the transformation of particle-adsorbed compounds. The significance of direct photolysis depends on the substrate under consideration and on the colour of the particle: dark carbonaceous material shields light, therefore protecting the adsorbed molecules from photodegradation, while a much lower protection is afforded for the light-shaded mineral fraction of particulate. Particulate matter is also rich in photosensitisers (e.g. quinones and aromatic carbonyls), partially derived from PAH photodegradation. These compounds can induce degradation of other molecules upon radiation absorption. Interestingly, substrates such as methoxyphenols, major constituents of wood-smoke aerosol, can also enhance the degradation of some sensitisers. Photosensitised processes in the tropospheric aqueous phase have been much less studied: it will be interesting to assess the photochemical properties of Humic-Like Substances (HULIS) that are major components of liquid droplets. The main photochemical sources of reactive radical species in aqueous solution and on particulate matter are hydrogen peroxide, nitrate, nitrite, and Fe(III) compounds and oxides. The photogeneration of hydroxyl radicals can be important in polluted areas, while their transfer from the gas phase and dark generation are usually prevailing on an average continental scale. The reactions involving hydroxyl radicals can induce very fast transformation of compounds reacting with OH at a diffusion-controlled rate (1010 M−1 s−1), with time scales of an hour or less. The hydroxyl-induced reactivity in solution can be faster than in the gas phase, influencing the degradation kinetics of water-soluble compounds. Moreover, photochemical processes in fog and cloudwater can be important sources of secondary pollutants such as nitro-, nitroso-, and chloro-derivatives.

Graphical abstract: Photochemical reactions in the tropospheric aqueous phase and on particulate matter

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Publication details

The article was received on 28 Nov 2005 and first published on 16 Feb 2006

Article type: Tutorial Review
DOI: 10.1039/B510796M
Chem. Soc. Rev., 2006,35, 441-453

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    Photochemical reactions in the tropospheric aqueous phase and on particulate matter

    D. Vione, V. Maurino, C. Minero, E. Pelizzetti, M. A. J. Harrison, R. Olariu and C. Arsene, Chem. Soc. Rev., 2006, 35, 441
    DOI: 10.1039/B510796M

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