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Investigation and modeling of diurnal variation in suburban ambient formaldehyde concentration


Formaldehyde (HCHO) is a naturally occurring compound found in ambient air which can induce cancer and sick-building syndrome. It plays an important role in the formation of OH radicals, which are connected to the formation of various airborne chemicals. Herein, we present a simple modeling for the simulation of diurnal variations in the HCHO concentration of ambient air. This was achieved using data collected during different seasons from November 2015 to March 2017 at a suburban location in Toyama City (Japan), where non-methane hydrocarbon (NMHC) levels were low at sub carbon ppm (ppmC) order. The modeling was based on the assumption that photochemical reactions of methane were the major factor of secondary HCHO formation. The model took into account the production and decomposition of HCHO by photochemical reactions as well as its loss due to other reactions such as dry deposition. Accordingly, the model’s equation contained terms for solar radiation, temperature, and methane concentration. The results predicted using the model showed good agreement with the experimental data observed on fine days, i.e., except rainy, foggy, and heavily cloudy days. The relationships between HCHO concentration and solar radiation/temperature on different days as well as the seasonal variation of HCHO concentration were also interpreted by the proposed model. This study contributes to the evaluation of the pollution levels of formaldehyde. Moreover, the model may be used to demonstrate the impact of increasing methane levels, with regard to global warming and the background levels of HCHO in the atmosphere.

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All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article.


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We greatly thank Katayama Y., Orii T., Naya K., and Taguchi E. for helping in air sampling and meteorological measurement at the investigation sites. We also thank Kuzawa K., Toyama Prefectural Government and Kawautchi H., Sapporo City Office, for sharing the data of ambient constituents in Toyama City and Sapporo City. We would like to thank Editage ( for English language editing.


This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI (grant number JP26340002).

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Authors and Affiliations



ST: supervision, conceptualization, writing-original draft, writing—review and editing; MH, AS, HF, SM, MK: measurement, investigation; KS: map preparation; NH: supervision; HK: supervision, validation, writing—review and editing. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Shigeru Taguchi or Hideki Kuramitz.

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Responsible Editor: Gerhard Lammel

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Taguchi, S., Hagiwara, M., Shibata, A. et al. Investigation and modeling of diurnal variation in suburban ambient formaldehyde concentration. Environ Sci Pollut Res 28, 13425–13438 (2021).

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  • Formaldehyde concentration
  • Ambient air
  • Diurnal variation
  • Modeling