Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Seguel R., Garreaud R., Munoz R., Bozkurt D., Gallardo L., Opazo C., Jorquera H., Castillo L., Menares C. (2023)

Volatile organic compounds measured by proton transfer reaction mass spectrometry over the complex terrain of Quintero Bay, Central Chile

Volumen : 330
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


This research provides new evidence regarding the different kinds of air quality episodes, and their underlying mechanisms, that frequently impact the urban area of Quintero Bay in Central Chile, which is located along complex coastal terrain and is surrounded by industries. The monitoring campaign was carried out in January 2022 and encompassed two distinctive meteorological regimes. The first part of the month was dominated by a coastal low centered to the south of Quintero, which resulted in prevailing northerly flow (or weak southerlies) and a deep cloud-topped marine boundary layer. After a 2-3-day transition, the latter collapsed, and a clear-sky regime ensued, which was characterized by a shallow boundary layer and strong southerly winds during the daytime that lasted until the end of the campaign. By using proton transfer reaction time of flight mass spectrometry (PTR-TOF-MS) at a high temporal reso-lution (1 s), we measured high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) during air quality episodes in real time. The episodes detected were associated with different prevailing meteorological regimes, suggesting that different point sources were involved. In the first episode, propene/cyclopropane, butenes, benzene, toluene and ethylbenzene/xylenes were associated with north and northwesterly weak winds. Complaints associated with hydrocarbon odor were reported. The pollution originated from industrial and petrochemical units located to the north of Quintero, which transport and store natural gas, liquified petroleum gas and oil. The second episode was linked to an oil refinery located south of our measurement site. In this case, high levels of phenol, furan and cresols occurred under strong southwesterly winds. During this event, headaches and dizziness were reported. By contrast, the levels of other aromatic compounds (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene/xylenes) were lower than in the first air pollution episode.