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Aerosol Chemistry

Ion Chromatography

Ion chromatography (IC) is used for analysis of aqueous samples in parts-per-million (ppm) and parts-per-billion (ppb) quantities for anions (chloride, nitrite, nitrate, and sulfate) and cations (sodium, ammonium, and potassium) along with organic acids (oxalate and methanesulfonic acid).

Ion-exchange chromatography is a process that allows the separation of water soluble ions and polar molecules based on the charge properties of the molecules. It uses ion-exchange resins installed in pressurized columns to act as a charged solid separation medium and separate atomic or molecular ions.

The analysis work is done by Environment Canada's Remote Regions Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory in Toronto.

Environment Canada's Remote Regions Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory in Toronto.
Environment Canada's Remote Regions Atmospheric
Chemistry Laboratory located in the Andrew Thomson Labs in Toronto.


Metals - Inductively Coupled Plasma - Mass Spectrometry

Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP/MS) is a fast, precise, accurate, and extremely sensitive multi-element analytical technique for the determination of trace elements in a variety of liquid and solid sample materials. Chemical analysis with an inductively coupled plasma (a state of the matter containing electrons and ionized atoms) is based on the principles of vaporization, dissociation, and ionization of chemical elements when introduced into the hot plasma. These ions can be then separated according to their mass/charge ratios by a high resolution magnetic sector mass analyzer and detected, multiplied, and counted using fast digital electronics. The current samples are analyzed at Environment Canada's Environmental Science and Technology Centre located on River Road in Ottawa.

Heavy Metals - Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis

Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA) is a trace-elemental analysis technique, in which an unknown sample is bombarded with thermal neutrons for a specified length of time. The chemical elements are identified and assayed after irradiation by measurement of characteristic radiation emitted from radiocuclides formed by neutron activation. Currently samples are analyzed by Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab at University of Texas at Austin.


Black Carbon - Aethalometer (Magee Scientific)

Black Carbon (BC) measurements have been conducted by an optical instrument called an aethalometer since 1990 at Alert. The black carbon mass is adjusted by comparing optically derived BC with the thermally measured elemental carbon (EC).

An aethalometer used for black carbon measurements at Alert.
An aethalometer used for black carbon
measurements at Alert.

Elemental Carbon / Organic Carbon - Thermal Technique

Organic Carbon (OC) & Elemental Carbon (EC) samples are collected on pre-fired quartz fiber filters. The filters are prepared by heating overnight at 800°C . The OC & EC contents on the filters are measured by a Thermal Optical Transmission (TOT) analyzer (Sunset Lab Inc.). The thermal separation protocol can be found in Huang et al, Stable isotope measurements of carbon fractions (OC/EC) in airborne particulate: A new dimension for source characterization and apportionment, Atmos. Environ., 40, 2690-2705, 2006.

Thermal Optical Transmission (TOT) analyzer.
Thermal Optical Transmission (TOT) analyzer.