Skip to main content

Concentrations, Sources, and Potential Human Health Risks of PCDD/Fs, dl-PCBs, and PAHs in Rural Atmosphere Around Chemical Plants in Jiangsu Province, China


Concentrations and sources of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs), dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (dl-PCBs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in a rural atmosphere near industrial zones in Jiangsu, China were determined and the associated risks were assessed. The concentrations of ΣPCDD/Fs, ΣPCBs, and ΣPAHs ranged from 11.9–57.7 pg·m−3, 0.58–2.71 pg m−3, and 11–18 ng m−3, respectively. Principal component analysis suggested that the contamination of air with PCDD/Fs and PCBs mainly originated from industrial activities and combustion processes. In contrast, the major source of PAHs was the combustion of petroleum, coal, and biomass. These data were used to estimate the exposure of the population living nearby to these persistent organic pollutants and to evaluate the non-carcinogenic and carcinogenic risks associated with their inhalation. Our study are likely to be helpful for developing and implementing regulation strategies for PCDD/Fs, dl-PCBs, and PAHs in the atmosphere around industrial and surrounding residential areas.

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

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


  1. Colombo JC, Cappelletti N, Lasci J, Migoya MC, Speranza E, Skorupka CN (2006) Sources, vertical fluxes, and equivalent toxicity of aromatic hydrocarbons in coastal sediments of the Rio de la Plata Estuary, Argentina. Environ Sci Technol 40:734–740.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Die QQ, Nie ZQ, Liu F, Tian YJ, Fang YY, Gao HF, Tian SL, He J, Huang QF (2015) Seasonal variations in atmospheric concentrations and gas-particle partitioning of PCDD/Fs and dioxin-like PCBs around industrial sites in Shanghai, China. Atmos Environ 119:220–227.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Hu JC, Wu J, Xu CY, Zha XS, Hua Y, Yang LW, Jin J (2019) Preliminary investigation of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxin and dibenzofuran, polychlorinated naphthalene, and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations in ambient air in an industrial park at the northeastern edge of the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau, China. Sci Total Environ 648:935–942.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Huiru L, Jialiang F, Guoying S, Senlin L, Jiamo F, Ping'an P, Ren MJC (2008) The PCDD/F and PBDD/F pollution in the ambient atmosphere of Shanghai, China. Chemosphere 70:576–583.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Lohmann R, Jones KC (1998) Dioxins and furans in air and deposition: a review of levels, behaviour and processes. Sci Total Environ 219:53–81.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Nguyen DD, Tsai CL, Hsu YC, Chen YW, Weng YM, Chang MB (2017) PCDD/Fs and dl-PCBs concentrations in water samples of Taiwan. Chemosphere 173:603–611.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Peng C, Chen W, Liao X, Wang M, Ouyang Z, Jiao W, Bai YJ (2011) Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in urban soils of Beijing: status, sources, distribution and potential risk. Environ Pollut 159:802–808.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Petry T, Schmid P, Schlatter C (1996) The use of toxic equivalency factors in assessing occupational and environmental health risk associated with exposure to airborne mixtures of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Chemosphere 32:639–648.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Rovira J, Mari M, Nadal M, Schuhmacher M, Domingo JLJ (2010) Environmental monitoring of metals, PCDD/Fs and PCBs as a complementary tool of biological surveillance to assess human health risks. Chemosphere 80:1183–1189.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Saeedi M, Li LY, Materials MSJ (2012) Heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: pollution and ecological risk assessment in street dust of Tehran. J Hazard Mater 227–228:9–17.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Shih SI, Wang YF, Chang JE, Jang JS, Kuo FL, Wang LC, Chang-Chien GP (2006) Comparisons of levels of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins/dibenzofurans in the surrounding environment and workplace of two municipal solid waste incinerators. J Hazard Mater 137:1817–1830.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Stanmore BR (2004) The formation of dioxins in combustion systems. Combust Flame 136:398–427.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. United States Environmental Protection Agency (2009) Risk assessment guidance for superfund volume I: Human Health Evaluation Manual (Part F, Supplemental guidance for inhalation risk assessment). [EPA-540-R-070-002]

  14. Van den Berg M, Birnbaum LS, Denison M, De Vito M (2006) The 2005 World Health Organization reevaluation of human and mammalian toxic equivalency factors for dioxins and dioxin-like compounds. Toxicol Sci 93:223–241.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Wang W, Huang MJ, Kang Y, Wang HS, Leung A.O.W, Cheung KC, Wong MH (2011) Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in urban surface dust of Guangzhou, China: Status, sources and human health risk assessment. Sci Total Environ 409:4519–4527.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Wang JZ,  Xu HM, Guinot B, Li LJ, Hang Ho SS,  Liu SX,  Li XP,  Cao JJ (2017) Concentrations, sources and health effects of parent, oxygenated- and nitrated- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in middle-school air in Xi'an, China. Atmos Res 192:1–10

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Wu J, Hu J, Wang S, Jin J, Wang R, Wang Y, Jin JJ (2018) Levels, sources, and potential human health risks of PCNs, PCDD/Fs, and PCBs in an industrial area of Shandong Province, China. Chemosphere 199:382–389.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Yuan GL, Wu HZ, Fu S, Han P, Lang XX (2014) Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in the topsoil of typical urban renewal area in Beijing, China: status, sources and potential risk. J Geochem Explor 138:94–103.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Zhang YX, Schauer JJ, Zhang YH, Zeng LM, Wei YJ, Liu Y, Shao M (2008) Characteristics of particulate carbon emissions from real-world Chinese coal combustion. Environ Sci Technol 42:5068–5073.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Zheng GJ, Leung AOW, Jiao LP, Wong MH (2008) Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans pollution in China: Sources, environmental levels and potential human health impacts. Environ Int 34:1050–1061.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was funded by the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2019M663078), State Key Laboratory of Pollution Control and Resource Reuse Open Funding Project (PCRRF18024), and The National Key Research and Development Program of China (2018YFC1801606).

Author information



Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Shen Xu or Ai-Min Li.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary file1 (DOCX 19 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Liu, W., Zhao, J., Xu, S. et al. Concentrations, Sources, and Potential Human Health Risks of PCDD/Fs, dl-PCBs, and PAHs in Rural Atmosphere Around Chemical Plants in Jiangsu Province, China. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 104, 846–851 (2020).

Download citation


  • Pcdd/fs
  • Dl-PCBs
  • Pahs
  • Metals
  • Industrial area
  • Human health risks