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Chlorine activation indoors and outdoors via surface-mediated reactions of nitrogen oxides with hydrogen chloride.

  • Author(s): Raff, Jonathan D;
  • Njegic, Bosiljka;
  • Chang, Wayne L;
  • Gordon, Mark S;
  • Dabdub, Donald;
  • Gerber, R Benny;
  • Finlayson-Pitts, Barbara J
  • et al.

Gaseous HCl generated from a variety of sources is ubiquitous in both outdoor and indoor air. Oxides of nitrogen (NO(y)) are also globally distributed, because NO formed in combustion processes is oxidized to NO(2), HNO(3), N(2)O(5) and a variety of other nitrogen oxides during transport. Deposition of HCl and NO(y) onto surfaces is commonly regarded as providing permanent removal mechanisms. However, we show here a new surface-mediated coupling of nitrogen oxide and halogen activation cycles in which uptake of gaseous NO(2) or N(2)O(5) on solid substrates generates adsorbed intermediates that react with HCl to generate gaseous nitrosyl chloride (ClNO) and nitryl chloride (ClNO(2)), respectively. These are potentially harmful gases that photolyze to form highly reactive chlorine atoms. The reactions are shown both experimentally and theoretically to be enhanced by water, a surprising result given the availability of competing hydrolysis reaction pathways. Airshed modeling incorporating HCl generated from sea salt shows that in coastal urban regions, this heterogeneous chemistry increases surface-level ozone, a criteria air pollutant, greenhouse gas and source of atmospheric oxidants. In addition, it may contribute to recently measured high levels of ClNO(2) in the polluted coastal marine boundary layer. This work also suggests the potential for chlorine atom chemistry to occur indoors where significant concentrations of oxides of nitrogen and HCl coexist.

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