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Seasonal and Spatial Variations of Air Concentrations of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Northeastern Chinese Urban Region

Abstract

Polyurethane foam disk passive air samplers were deployed along an urban–rural-background transect in a northeastern Chinese region (Harbin) to investigate the spatial and seasonal variations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The ∑16PAHs concentrations [ng/(sample·day)] were high at urban sites (315 ± 206), followed by rural sites (222 ± 160), suburban site (142 ± 114) and background site (128 ± 107). The urban fractionation effect was observed along the transect with increasing proportions for low molecular weight PAHs and decreasing proportions for high molecular weight PAHs. PAHs were found to be higher in winter and spring than in summer and autumn, most likely due to the combustion of coal and biomass for domestic heating. Sources of PAHs were investigated by principal component analysis in combination with diagnostic ratios, which both indicated that pyrogenic sources were the main sources of PAHs in the air of Harbin, China.

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Acknowledgments

Financial support from State Key Laboratory of Urban Water Resource and Environment (Project: 2010DX07), Harbin Institute of Technology, China is highly appreciated. The authors are also grateful to the residents in Harbin for their cooperation with the air sampling. Special thanks to Tom Harner from Environment Canada for sharing his experience with the passive air samplers of the same design.

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Correspondence to Yi-fan Li.

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Ma, Wl., Qi, H., Li, Yf. et al. Seasonal and Spatial Variations of Air Concentrations of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Northeastern Chinese Urban Region. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 86, 43–49 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-010-0169-8

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Keywords

  • PAHs
  • Passive air sampler
  • Spatial and seasonal variations
  • Principal component analysis