Skip to main content

Carbonyls in the metropolitan area of Mexico City:

Calculation of the total photolytic rate constants Kp(S-1) and photolytic lifetime (τ) of ambient formaldehyde and acetaldehyde


A great number of studies on the ambient levels of formaldehyde and other carbonyls in the urban rural and maritime atmospheres have been published because of their chemical and toxicological characteristics, and adverse health effects. Due to their toxicological effects, it was considered necessary to measure these compounds at different sites in the metropolitan area of Mexico City, and to calculate the total rate of photolytic constants and the photolytic lifetime of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Four sites were chosen. Sampling was carried out at different seasons and atmospheric conditions.

The results indicated that formaldehyde was the most abundant carbonyl, followed by acetone and acetaldehyde. Data sets obtained from the 4 sites were chosen to calculate the total rate of photolysis and the photolytic lifetime for formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. Maximum photolytic rate values were obtained at the maximum actinic fluxes, as was to be expected.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Altshuler AP (1993): Production of aldehydes as primary emissions and from secondary atmospheric reactions of alkenes and alkanes during night and early morning hours. Atmos Environ27A, 21–32

    Google Scholar 

  2. Atkinson R, Baulch DL, Cox RA, Hampson RF Jr, Kerr JA, Rossi MJ, Troe J (1999): Evaluated kinetic and photochemical data for atmospheric chemistry, organic species: Supplement VII. IUPAC Subcommittee on Gas Kinetic Data Evaluation for Atmospheric Chemistry. J Phys and Chem Reference Data28, No 2, 366–369

    Google Scholar 

  3. Báez AP, Belmont RD, Padilla HG (1995): Measurements of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in the atmosphere of Mexico City. Environ Pollut89, 163–167

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Báez AP, Padilla HG, Torres MC, Belmont RD (2000): Ambient levels of carbonyls in Mexico City. Atmösfera,13, 121–131

    Google Scholar 

  5. Demerjian, KL, Peterson JT (1980): Theoretical estimates of actinic (spherical integrated) flux and photolytic rate constants of atmospheric species in the lower troposphere. Adv Environ Sci Technol10, 369

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Feinman SE (1983): Formaldehyde genotoxicity and teratogenicity. In: Feinman SE (ed) Formaldehyde: Sensitivity and toxicity. CRC Press, Boca Raton FL 167–178

    Google Scholar 

  7. Finlayson-Pitt JB, Pitts WJ (1976): Photochemistry of the polluted troposphere. Science192, 111–119

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Finlayson-Pitt JB, Pitts WJ (1986): Atmospheric chemistry. Fundamental and Experimental Techniques. John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York, Brisbane, Toronto, Singapore, pp 108, 136

    Google Scholar 

  9. Grosjean D, Miguel AH, Tabares TM (1990): Urban air pollution in Brazil: Acetaldehyde and other carbonyls. Atmos Environ24B, 101–106

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Grasftrom RC (1990): In vitro studies of aldehyde effects related to human respiratory carcinogenesis. Mutation Res238, 175–1184

    Google Scholar 

  11. Haszpra L, Szilagyi I, Demeter A, Turányi T, Bérces T (1991): Nonmethane hydrocarbons and aldehyde measurements in Budapest, Hungary. Atmos Environ25A, 2103–2110

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Horowitz A, Calvert JG (1982): Wavelength dependence on the primary processes in acetaldehyde photolysis. J Phys Chem86, 3105

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Kalabokas P, Carlier P, Fresnt P, Mouvier G, Toupance G (1988): Field studies of aldehyde chemistry in the Paris area. Atmos Environ22, 147–155

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Zafiriou OC, Alford J, Herrera M, Pelzer ET, Gagosian RB (1980): Formaldehyde in remote marine air and rain: Flux measurements and estimates. Geophys Res Lett7, 241–244

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Armando P. Báez.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Báez, A.P., Torres, M.d.C.B., García, R.M. et al. Carbonyls in the metropolitan area of Mexico City:. Environ Sci & Pollut Res 9, 230–233 (2002).

Download citation


  • Acetaldehyde
  • ambient aldehyde measurements
  • calculation of photolytic rate constants
  • carbonyls
  • formaldehyde
  • Mexico City
  • photolytic lifetime