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Characterization of parent and oxygenated-polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Xi’an, China during heating period: An investigation of spatial distribution and transformation

Wang, Jingzhi, Hang Ho, Steven Sai, Huang, Rujin, Gao, Meiling, Liu, Suixin, Zhao, Shuyu, Cao, Junji, Wang, Gehui, Shen, Zhenxing, Han, Yongming
Chemosphere 2016 v.159 pp. 367-377
anthracenes, anthraquinones, biomarkers, biomass, burning, cities, coal, combustion, emissions, heat, industry, pollution, statistical analysis, toxins, China
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and its oxygenated derivatives (OPAHs) are toxins in PM2.5. Little information has been known for their transformation in the ambient airs. In this study, PM2.5 samples were collected at 19 sampling sites in Xi’an, China during the heating period, which is classified into: urban residential, university, commercial area, suburban region, and industry. Organic compounds including PAHs, OPAHs, hopanes and cholestanes were quantified. The average of total quantified PAHs and OPAHs concentrations were 196.5 ng/m3 and 29.4 ng/m3, respectively, which were consistent with other northern cities in China. Statistical analyses showed that there were significant differences on the distributions of PAHs between urban and suburban regions. The industry also had distinguishable profiles compared with urban residential and commercial area for OPAHs. The greater diversity of OPAHs than PAHs might be due to different primary emission sources and transformation and degradation pathways. The ratios of OPAHs to the corresponding parent PAHs, including 9-fluorenone/fluorene, anthraquinone/anthracene, benz[a]anthracene-7,12-dione/benzo[a]anthracene were 6.2, 12.7, and 1.4, respectively, which were much higher than those for the fresh emissions from coal combustion and biomass burning. These prove the importance of secondary formation and transformation of OPAHs in the ambient airs. Biomarkers such as retene, cyclopenta[CD]pyrene and αα-homohopane were characterized for the source apportionment. With Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) model analysis, biomass burning was recognized as the most dominant pollution sources for PAHs during the heading period, which accounted for a contribution of 37.1%. Vehicle emission (22.8%) and coal combustion (22.6%) were also contributors in Xi’an.