Although the chemistry occurring on atmospheric dust is thought to play a very important role in the transformation and environmental fate of many atmospheric VOCs, there remain many unanswered questions.
A recent publication by researchers from the Mines Douai and the University of Lille in France tackles the most fundamental questions by investigating adsorption of VOCs on dust particles. They probed the interactions of prototypical atmospheric VOCs (limonene and toluene) with various Saharan mineral dusts in their novel laboratory experiments. Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry (SIFT-MS) provided them with very sensitive, real-time analysis of the VOCs as they were released into the gas phase, allowing them to investigate the adsorption kinetics.
This groundbreaking work demonstrates that the innovative SIFT-MS technique is an essential tool for researchers seeking to develop more complete models of tropospheric chemistry.
You can read the full text of the article titled “Investigating the Heterogeneous Interaction of VOCs with Natural Atmospheric Particles: Adsorption of Limonene and Toluene on Saharan Mineral Dusts” by Manolis N. Romanías, Habib Ourrad, Frédéric Thévenet, and Véronique Riffault in The Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 2016, (volume 120, pages 1197–1212). It is available here.