PM2.5-bound oxygenated PAHs, nitro-PAHs and parent-PAHs from the atmosphere of a Chinese megacity: seasonal variation, sources and cancer risk assessment

Bandowe, Benjamin; Meusel, Hannah; Huang, Ru-jin; Ho, Kinfai; Cao, Junji; Hoffmann, Thorsten; Wilcke, Wolfgang (2014). PM2.5-bound oxygenated PAHs, nitro-PAHs and parent-PAHs from the atmosphere of a Chinese megacity: seasonal variation, sources and cancer risk assessment. Science of the total environment, 473-474, pp. 77-87. Elsevier 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.11.108

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Polycyclic aromatic compounds (PACs) in air particulate matter contribute considerably to the health risk of air pollution. The objectives of this study were to assess the occurrence and variation in concentrations and sources of PM2.5-bound PACs [Oxygenated PAHs (OPAHs), nitro-PAHs and parent-PAHs] sampled from the atmosphere of a typical Chinese megacity (Xi'an), to study the influence of meteorological conditions on PACs and to estimate the lifetime excess cancer risk to the residents of Xi'an (from inhalation of PM2.5-bound PACs). To achieve these objectives, we sampled 24-h PM2.5 aerosols (once in every 6 days, from 5 July 2008 to 8 August 2009) from the atmosphere of Xi'an and measured the concentrations of PACs in them. The PM2.5-bound concentrations of Σcarbonyl-OPAHs, ∑ hydroxyl + carboxyl-OPAHs, Σnitro-PAHs and Σalkyl + parent-PAHs ranged between 5–22, 0.2–13, 0.3–7, and 7–387 ng m− 3, respectively, being markedly higher than in most western cities. This represented a range of 0.01–0.4% and 0.002–0.06% of the mass of organic C in PM2.5 and the total mass of PM2.5, respectively. The sums of the concentrations of each compound group had winter-to-summer ratios ranging from 3 to 8 and most individual OPAHs and nitro-PAHs had higher concentrations in winter than in summer, suggesting a dominant influence of emissions from household heating and winter meteorological conditions. Ambient temperature, air pressure, and wind speed explained a large part of the temporal variation in PACs concentrations. The lifetime excess cancer risk from inhalation (attributable to selected PAHs and nitro-PAHs) was six fold higher in winter (averaging 1450 persons per million residents of Xi'an) than in summer. Our results call for the development of emission control measures.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Soil Science
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Bandowe, Benjamin, Meusel, Hannah, Wilcke, Wolfgang


900 History > 910 Geography & travel








Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

05 Sep 2014 16:44

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:34

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

PAHs, Oxygenated PAHs, Nitro-PAHs, PM2.5, Cancer risk, China




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