In situ ozone production is highly sensitive to volatile organic compounds in Delhi, India

Nelson B. S., Stewart G. J., Drysdale W. S., Newland M. J., Vaughan A. R., Dunmore R. E., ...More

ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS, vol.21, no.17, pp.13609-13630, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 21 Issue: 17
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.5194/acp-21-13609-2021
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Aerospace Database, Aqualine, Aquatic Science & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA), Artic & Antarctic Regions, Chemical Abstracts Core, Communication Abstracts, Environment Index, Geobase, Metadex, Pollution Abstracts, Directory of Open Access Journals, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.13609-13630
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: No


The Indian megacity of Delhi suffers from some of the poorest air quality in the world. While ambient NO2 and particulate matter (PM) concentrations have received considerable attention in the city, high ground-level ozone (O-3) concentrations are an often overlooked component of pollution. O-3 can lead to significant ecosystem damage and agricultural crop losses, and adversely affect human health. During October 2018, concentrations of speciated non-methane hydrocarbon volatile organic compounds (C-2-C-13), oxygenated volatile organic compounds (o-VOCs), NO, NO2, HONO, CO, SO2, O-3, and photolysis rates, were continuously mea- sured at an urban site in Old Delhi. These observations were used to constrain a detailed chemical box model utilising the Master Chemical Mechanism v3.3.1. VOCs and NOx (NO C NO2) were varied in the model to test their impact on local O-3 production rates, P(O-3), which revealed a VOC-limited chemical regime. When only NO x concentrations were reduced, a significant increase in P(O-3) was observed; thus, VOC co-reduction approaches must also be considered in pollution abatement strategies. Of the VOCs examined in this work, mean morning P(O-3) rates were most sensitive to monoaromatic compounds, followed by monoterpenes and alkenes, where halving their concentrations in the model led to a 15.6 %, 13.1 %, and 12.9% reduction in P(O-3), respectively. P(O-3) was not sensitive to direct changes in aerosol surface area but was very sensitive to changes in photolysis rates, which may be influenced by future changes in PM concentrations. VOC and NOx concentrations were divided into emission source sectors, as described by the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) v5.0 Global Air Pollutant Emissions and EDGAR v4.3.2_VOC_spec inventories, allowing for the impact of individual emission sources on P(O-3) to be investigated. Reducing road transport emissions only, a common strategy in air pollution abatement strategies worldwide, was found to increase P(O-3), even when the source was removed in its entirety. Effective reduction in P(O-3) was achieved by reducing road transport along with emissions from combustion for manufacturing and process emissions. Modelled P(O-3) reduced by similar to 20 ppb h(-1) when these combined sources were halved. This study highlights the importance of reducing VOCs in parallel with NOx and PM in future pollution abatement strategies in Delhi.