Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 225–234

Source apportionment of BTEX compounds in Tehran, Iran using UNMIX receptor model


DOI: 10.1007/s11869-016-0425-0

Cite this article as:
Dehghani, M.H., Sanaei, D., Nabizadeh, R. et al. Air Qual Atmos Health (2017) 10: 225. doi:10.1007/s11869-016-0425-0


Understanding the distribution levels and sources of volatile organic compounds (VOC), mainly benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylenes (BTEX), in the ambient atmosphere is important for efficiently managing and implementing the associated control strategies. We measured BTEX compounds at an industrial location in the west Tehran city (Iran), which is highly influenced by industrial activities and traffic during the winter and spring seasons during 2014–2015. A multivariate receptor model, UNMIX, was applied on the measured data for the identification of the sources and their contributions to BTEX compounds in a highly industrialised and trafficked atmospheric environment of Tehran city. Three main groups of sources were identified. These included solvent and painting sources (e.g. vehicle manufacturing), motorised road vehicles and mixed origin sources. Whilst the solvent and painting sources and vehicle exhaust emissions contributed to about 5 and 29 % of total BTEX mass, respectively, the mixed origin source contributed to about two third (∼66 %) of the remaining mass. These mixed origin sources included rubber and plastic manufacturing (39 %), leather industries (28 %) and the unknown sources (33 %). The mean concentrations of benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and average xylene (o, p.m.) compounds were measured as 28.96 ± 9.12 μg m−3, 29.55 ± 9.73 μg m−3, 28.61 ± 12.2 μg/m−3 and 25.68 ± 10.58 μg m−3, respectively. A high correlation coefficient (R2 > 0.94) was also found between predicted (modelled) and measured concentrations for each sample. Further analyses from UNMIX receptor model showed that the average weekday contributions of BTEX compounds were significantly higher during winter compared with those during spring. This higher concentration during winter may be attributed to calm wind conditions and high stability of the atmosphere, along with the after effect of government policies on the use of cleaner fuel in refineries that became operational in winter 2014.


Source apportionment BTEX compounds UNMIX receptor model Urban environment Tehran air quality 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Institute for Environmental research
  • 24577-46-03-92

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammad Hadi Dehghani
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daryoush Sanaei
    • 1
    • 3
  • Ramin Nabizadeh
    • 1
    • 3
  • Shahrokh Nazmara
    • 1
  • Prashant Kumar
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Public HealthTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIslamic Republic of Iran
  2. 2.Institute for Environmental Research, Center for Solid Waste ResearchTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIslamic Republic of Iran
  3. 3.Center for Air Pollution Research, Institute for Environmental ResearchTehran University of Medical SciencesTehranIslamic Republic of Iran
  4. 4.Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Physical SciencesUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK
  5. 5.Environmental Flow (EnFlo) Research Centre, Faculty of Engineering and Physical SciencesUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK

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