Analytical Approaches to Measurements of Reactive Nitrogen in the Indoor Environment
People spend up to 90 % of their time in indoor environments, but less is known about the chemistry of these spaces compared to the chemistry of the atmosphere at large. These spaces present challenges in bringing analytical tools into them for measurements due to their occupied nature. The research group has been funded by the Alfred P Sloan Foundation's Chemistry of the Indoor Environment program to pursue the development of new analytical methods and platforms to target reactive nitrogen measurements in the indoor environment. There are three broad questions that are currently being pursued by our research group:
Can ammonia and amines (NH3 and NR3) be collected quantitatively in indoor environments by passive sampling and yield easily detected reaction products at levels in the range expected in indoor environments?
Can a passive sampling method for nitrous acid (HONO) be developed that is selective and yields an easily detected reaction product free of interferences?
Can the total reactive nitrogen (Nr) in indoor environments be quantified and fractionated – including gas and particulate Nr, HONO, reduced nitrogen (i.e. NH3 + NR3) and acidic nitrogen pools - with a simple and affordable real-time analytical platform that can be used for large surveys?
Biogeochemical Impacts of Atmospheric Nutrient Deposition
Over the past century humans have chemically converted inert dinitrogen gas into reactive forms of nitrogen intentionally, for agricultural fertilizers, and unintentionally, in the burning of fossil fuels. This reactive nitrogen, when released to the atmosphere, can be transported over long distances to affect the productivity of sensitive, nutrient-limited, ecosystems.
Trevor and his research group are currently interpreting measurements of reactive nitrogen across a latitudinal transect of boreal forest sites in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL-BELT). This transect acts as a model for climate change and allows assessment of potential climate feedback mechanisms. Reactive nitrogen measurements can specifically aid in understanding potential impacts on the cycling and storage of carbon in boreal ecosystems with changing climate. Both issues are of high significance to predicting future ecosystem changes in Canada, where climate change impacts are already visible in Arctic regions and transport of human-derived reactive nitrogen has been recorded.