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Influences of inorganic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on the sources of PM2.5 in the Southeast Asian urban sites


PM2.5 released from urban sources and regional biomass fire is of great concern due to the deleterious effect on human health. This study was conducted to determine the chemical compositions andsource apportionment of PM2.5. Twenty-four-hour PM2.5 samples were collected at two urban monitoring sites in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 12 November 2013 to 15 January 2014 using a high volume air sampler (HVS). The source apportionment of PM2.5 was determined using positive matrix factorization (PMF) version 5.0. Overall, the PM2.5 mean concentrations ranged from 16 to 55 μg m−3 with a mean of 23 ± 9 μg m−3. The results of enrichment factor (EF) analysis showed that Zn, Pb, As, Cu, Cr, V, Ni, and Cs mainly originated from non-crustal sources. The dominant polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were benzo[b]fluoranthene (B[b]F), benzo[ghi]perylene (B[ghi]P), indeno[1,2,3-cd]pyrene (I[cd]P), benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) and benzo[k]fluoranthene (B[k]F). PMF 5.0 results showed that the secondary aerosol coupled with biomass burning was the largest contributor followed by combustion of fuel oil and road dust, soil dust source and sea salt and nitrate aerosol, accounting for 34, 25, 24 and 17% of PM2.5 mass, respectively. On the other hand, biomass and wood burning (42%) was the predominant source of PAHs followed by combustion of fossil fuel (36%) and natural gas and coal burning (22%). The broad overview of the PM2.5 sources will help to adopt adequate mitigation measures in the management of future urban air quality in this region.

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The authors would like to thank Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia for Research University Grants (DIP-2016-015 and GGPM-2016-034) and the Ministry of Education for the Fundamental Research Grant (FRGS/1/2015/WAB03/UKM/01/1). The meteorological data applied to the HYSPLIT model were accessible at Special thanks go to Dr. Rose Norman for proofreading this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Md Firoz Khan.

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Research Highlights

• We determined the source apportionment analysis based on PM2.5 composition

• SO4 2−, NO3 , NH4 +, Na, Al, K and Mg were major inorganic elements in PM2.5

• B[b]F and B[ghi]P were the most abundant PAHs in atmospheric PM2.5

• Secondary/biomass, fuel oil/road dust and soil were the predominant PM2.5 sources

• Biomass and wood burning were the predominant sources of PAHs

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Khan, M.F., Hwa, S.W., Hou, L.C. et al. Influences of inorganic and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on the sources of PM2.5 in the Southeast Asian urban sites. Air Qual Atmos Health 10, 999–1013 (2017).

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  • Urban environment
  • Source apportionment
  • Positive matrix factorization
  • Enrichment factor
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon
  • PM2.5