Radiocarbon measurements of atmospheric volatile organic compounds: Quantifying the biogenic contribution

George A. Klouda, Charles W. Lewis, Reinhold A. Rasmussen, George C. Rhoderick, Robert L. Sams, Robert K. Stevens, Lloyd A. Currie, Douglas J. Donahue, A. J.Timothy Jull, Robert L. Seila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The radiocarbon (14C) abundance of atmospheric volatile organic compounds (VOC) gives a quantitative estimate of contributions from biomass and fossil-mass sources, important information for effective regulation of ozone precursors. We report here details of a methodology to perform such measurements and the first exploratory 14C results on VOC fractions separated from two composited urban tropospheric air samples, collected during the summer (1992) in Atlanta, GA. The upper limit of the percentage of VOC originating from biomass sources during the morning and evening hours in Atlanta were 9 and 17%, respectively, measurements reported at the 95% confidence level. However, due to the level of the process blank and its uncertainty, in both cases the percentage can be as low as zero. The results of these experiments, designed to (i) evaluate the entire [14C]VOC measurement process and (ii) obtain reliable estimates of biogenic contributions to atmospheric VOC, emphasize how important controls are throughout this multi-step chemical process to ensure quality data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1098-1105
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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