Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in air associated with particles PM2.5 in the Basque Country (Spain)
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The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a group of persistent pollutants that are globally distributed. The objectives of this study are as follows: (1) to analyze the levels of the priority PAHs in the PM2.5 fraction of air: naphthalene, acenaphthene, fluorene, phenanthrene, anthracene, fluoranthene, pyrene, benzoanthracene, chrysene, benzo(b)fluoranthene, benzo(k)fluoranthene, benzo(a)pyrene, dibenzoanthracene, benzo(g,h,i)perylene, indenepyrene, acenaphthylene, in two urban industrial areas of the province of Gipuzkoa (Basque Country, Spain), (2) to describe seasonal variation, and (3) to identify the source of PAHs. The ∑PAH concentrations ranged from 0.85 to 9.86 ng/m3. We found statistical differences between sites of sampling (p < 0.05), with higher values in Azpeitia. The median value of benzo(a)pyrene was 0.05 ng/m3 (ranged from 0.05 to 1.12 ng/m3), lower than the threshold set by the European legislation. Statistical differences were found (p < 0.05) in relation to seasonal variation, with the highest levels registered in winter and in autumn. PAH ratios and principal component analysis (PCA) revealed that probably the vehicular emissions are the predominant source of PAHs.
KeywordsPolycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon PM2.5 PAH ratios Pollution sources Seasonal variation Principal component analysis (PCA)
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
International Agency for Research on Cancer
Particulate matter 2.5
Limit of detection
Limit of quantification
Principal component analysis
We want to thank the town councils of the study areas for their help during the sampling time and especially to all the families that, voluntarily, took part in the INMA project (Environment and Childhood), for without their collaboration, it would not have been possible to carry out this study.
This study received financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Health and Consumer (Fund for Health Research Project PI06/0867 and Fund for Health Research Project PS09/00090), the Basque Government (Project 2009111069), and the town councils involved: Azpeitia, Azkoitia, Urretxu, Zumarraga, Legazpi and Beasain.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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