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Indian PTR-MS collects first VOC data from Indo-Gangetic Plain

Prof. Sinha and his team have compiled a comprehensive dataset from their new high quality atmospheric chemistry observation station at IISER Mohali.

IISER_Mohali_Sinha_team_out_copyright_Vinayak_SinhaProf. Vinayak Sinha lives and does his research in a region called the Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP). Home of one seventh of the world’s population and as a fertile region, it sustains agricultural food crop production for much of South Asia, yet it remains one of the most under-studied regions of the world in terms of atmospheric composition and chemistry. One of Prof. Sinha’s goals is to change that and being our first Indian PTR-MS customer, he has a powerful tool at hand that he operates on a 24/7 basis together with his team in the new atmospheric chemistry facility “the blue eye in the sky” at IISER, Mohali.

His recently published paper sheds some light, in particular, on the emissions and chemistry of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that form surface ozone and secondary organic aerosol through photochemical reactions involving nitrogen oxides. In this study, ambient levels of VOCs such as methanol, acetone, acetaldehyde, acetonitrile and isoprene were measured for the first time in the IGP. India’s first IONICON High-Sensitivity Proton Transfer Reaction – Mass Spectrometer together with an ambient air quality station and a meteorological station, was used to quantify in situ levels of several VOCs and air pollutants.

IISER_Mohali_Sinha_team_copyright_Vinayak_SinhaProf. Sinha and his team were able to obtain field data for the global community, showing surprisingly large emission of isoprene (the dominant emission source of which is terrestrial vegetation) from nighttime biomass burning. Moreover, high levels of carcinogenic benzenoids were emitted from regional crop residue burning. The large primary emi ssions of reactive VOCs and high levels of surface ozone (29 out of 31 days exceeded the 8 h ambient air quality standard during the month long study) impair regional air quality.

“The dataset will help policy makers plan effective mitigation strategies as well as intrigue atmospheric chemists to investigate the unique photochemical regime in this part of the world”, Prof. Sinha concludes when asked about the possible effects of his study on society.

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