Direct measurements of urban OH reactivity during Nashville SOS in summer 1999

T. A. Kovacs, W. H. Brune, H. Harder, M. Martinez, J. B. Simpas, G. J. Frost, E. Williams, T. Jobson, C. Stroud, V. Young, A. Fried, B. Wert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Emissions of volatile chemicals control the hydroxyl radical (OH), the atmosphere's main cleansing agent, and thus the production of secondary pollutants. Accounting for all of these chemicals can be difficult, especially in environments with mixed urban and forest emissions. The first direct measurements of the atmospheric OH reactivity, the inverse of the OH lifetime, were made as part of the Southern Oxidant Study (SOS) at Cornelia Fort Airpark in Nashville, TN in summer 1999. Measured OH reactivity was typically 11 s-1. Measured OH reactivity was 1.4 times larger than OH reactivity calculated from the sum of the products of measured chemical concentrations and their OH reaction rate coefficients. This difference is statistically significant at the 1σ uncertainty level of both the measurements and the calculations but not the 2σ uncertainty level. Measured OH reactivity was 1.3 times larger than the OH reactivity from a model that uses measured ambient concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), NO, NO2, SO2, and CO. However, it was within ∼10% of the OH reactivity from a model that includes hydrocarbon measurements made in a Nashville tunnel and scaled to the ambient CO at Cornelia Fort Airpark. These comparisons indicate that 30% of the OH reactivity in Nashville may come from short-lived highly reactive VOCs that are not usually measured in field intensive studies or by US EPA's Photochemical Assessment Monitoring Stations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-74
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Monitoring
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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