Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 23, Issue 16, pp 16025–16036 | Cite as

Azaarenes in fine particulate matter from the atmosphere of a Chinese megacity

  • Benjamin A. Musa Bandowe
  • Hannah Meusel
  • Rujin Huang
  • Thorsten Hoffmann
  • Junji Cao
  • Kinfai Ho
Research Article


Azaarenes (AZAs) are toxicologically relevant organic compounds with physicochemical properties that are significantly different from the well-studied polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). However, little is known about their concentrations, seasonal variations, fate, and relationship with PAHs in air. This paper reports the temporal variations in the concentrations and composition patterns of AZAs in PM2.5 that was sampled once per 6 days from outdoor air of Xi’an, China from July 2008 to August 2009. The concentrations of the ∑AZAs, quinoline (QUI), benzo[h]quinoline (BQI), and acridine (ACR) in PM2.5 were 213–6441, 185–520, 69–2483, and 10–3544 pg m−3, respectively. These concentrations were higher than those measured in urban areas of Western Europe. AZA compositional patterns were dominated by BQI and ACR. The high concentration of AZAs, high AZA/related PAH ratio, and the dominance of three-ring AZAs (BQI and ACR) in PM2.5 of Xi’an are all in contrast to observations from Western European and North American cities. This contrast likely reflects differences in coal type and the more intense use of coal in China. The PM2.5-bound concentration of AZA in winter season (W) was higher than during the summer season (S) with W/S ratios of 5.7, 1.4, 4.1, and 13, for ∑AZAs, QUI, BQI, and ACR, respectively. Despite their significantly different physicochemical properties, AZAs were significantly (p < 0.05) positively correlated with their related PAHs and pyrogenic elemental carbon. The changes in AZA concentrations were positively correlated with ambient pressure but negatively correlated with ambient temperature, wind speed, and relative humidity. This trend is similar to that observed for the related PAHs. We conclude that Xi’an and possibly other Chinese cities have higher emission of AZAs into their atmosphere because of the more pronounced use of coal. We also conclude that in spite of differences in physicochemical properties between AZAs and related PAHs, the atmospheric dynamics and relationships with meteorological factors of both compound groups are similar.


Azaarenes PAHs PM2.5 Chinese megacity Seasonal change Meteorological conditions 



This project was funded with grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF 200021_131938/1) and the Chinese Academy of Science “Strategic Priority Research Program” (XDB05060500). We thank Wolfgang Wilcke (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany) for his support. We thank Alexander Herrmann (Institute of Geography, University of Bern) for drawing Fig. 1.

Supplementary material

11356_2016_6740_MOESM1_ESM.docx (80 kb)
ESM 1 Supplementary Information (DOCX 79 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Benjamin A. Musa Bandowe
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hannah Meusel
    • 3
  • Rujin Huang
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
  • Thorsten Hoffmann
    • 7
  • Junji Cao
    • 4
  • Kinfai Ho
    • 8
  1. 1.Institute of GeographyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Oeschger Centre for Climate Change ResearchUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  3. 3.Multiphase Chemistry DepartmentMax Planck Institute for ChemistryMainzGermany
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry & Physics, Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina
  5. 5.Centre for Atmospheric and Marine SciencesXiamen Huaxia UniversityXiamenChina
  6. 6.Laboratory of Atmospheric ChemistryPaul Scherrer InstituteVilligenSwitzerland
  7. 7.Institute of Inorganic and Analytical ChemistryJohannes Gutenberg University MainzMainzGermany
  8. 8.Jockey Club School of Public Health & Primary CareThe Chinese University of Hong KongSha TinHong Kong

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