Inorganic and organic aerosols downwind of California's Roseville Railyard

Thomas A. Cahill, Thomas Cahill, David E. Barnes, Nicholas J. Spada, Roger Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Inorganic and organic constituents of aerosols from a major railyard and repair facility were characterized to develop a profile of emissions from railyard activities. The railyard has very consistent downslope winds blowing laterally across the railyard for about 8 hours each night, so two sampling stations were used, one just upwind of the railyard and one downwind adjacent to the railyard fence line. Aerosol samples were collected by rotating drum impactors (DRUM and Lundgren) in up to 9 size modes for 5 weeks in summer and fall of 2005 in tandem with the Roseville Railyard Aerosol Monitoring Project (RRAMP), which measured, black carbon (BC) PM2, as well as NO and NO2. The DRUM aerosol samples were analyzed for mass, optical absorption, and elemental content in 3 h time resolution to allow separation of day and night. Organic analysis was conducted on another set of time integrated size-segregated samples taken by a Lundgren impactor during nighttime hours. The ratio between the downwind versus upwind sites at night was as high as 21.9 (NO, RRAMP) and 6.4 (optical absorption, DRUM) but many species had ratios greater than 2, demonstrating which aerosols arose from railyard activities. The main emissions from the railyard consisted of very fine (0.26 > Dp > 0.09 μm) and ultrafine (<0.1 μm) aerosols associated with diesel exhaust such as mass, organic matter, transition metals, and sulfur, the latter 3.3% of the mass since locomotive diesel fuel still contained sulfur. There were also coarse soil aerosols contaminated with anthropogenic metals and petroleum-derived n-alkanes. The aerosol PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) profile showed higher proportions of the heavier PAHs, such as benzo[a]pyrene, compared to diesel truck exhaust on a per unit mass. These aerosols were mostly in the ultrafine (<0.1 μm) size mode, enhancing lung capture. These results and those of Roseville Railyard Aerosol Monitoring Project (RRAMP) largely confirm earlier California Air Resources Board's (ARB) model estimates of health impacts downwind of the railyard based on diesel exhaust, while adding data on very fine transition metals and contaminated soils, potentially important to human health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1049-1059
Number of pages11
JournalAerosol Science and Technology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Pollution


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