Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 581–590 | Cite as

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon patterns in the city of Rio de Janeiro

  • Rafael Lopes Oliveira
  • Danilo Jorge Custódio
  • Claudia Ramos de Rainho
  • Erika Morais
  • Israel Felzenszwalb
  • Sérgio Machado Corrêa
  • Débora Almeida Azevedo
  • Graciela Arbilla


In this study, the concentrations of 16 Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH), considered priority by US EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency), in fine particulate matter (PM2.5), were determined in a forest reserve and in an urban area in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The PM2.5 samples were collected in the Tijuca Forest (TF) and on the Maracanã campus of the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), using PM2.5 high-volume air samplers, from November 2015 to April 2016. The organic matter was extracted, separated by liquid chromatography, and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The mean total PAH (excluding naphthalene, acenaphthene, and acenaphthylene) concentrations were 0.46 ± 0.61 ng m−3 and 1.12 ± 0.71 ng m−3 in PM2.5 collected at TF and UERJ, respectively. The diagnostic ratios suggested vehicular sources for both sites with no clear distinction between light and heavy vehicular sources. Cluster and principal component analyses were also used to clarify the possible PAH sources. Simulations of air mass trajectories confirmed the transport of pollutants from the city to the forest. Mutagenicity tests revealed that the PM collected in the UERJ presented mutagenic positive activity, likely for nitro-PAH and amino-PAH, which may be related to vehicular emissions. For the TF, although the forest was impacted by the pollutants, no positive activity was detected. Correlation and cluster analyses showed different PAH distributions for the TF and UERJ sites, which indicates that the TF receives the air masses from the city but is also impacted by local emissions.


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons Elementary and organic carbon Air quality Mutagenicity assay 



The authors would like to thank Tijuca National Park (ICMBio) for the support in the collection of the samples.

Funding information

They also acknowledge Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), Coordination of Improvement of Higher Level Personnel (CAPES), Carlos Chagas Filho Foundation for Research Support of the State of Rio de Janeiro and (FAPERJ) Leopoldo Américo Miguez de Mello Research Center (CENPES) for financial support.

Supplementary material

11869_2018_566_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.3 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1356 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rafael Lopes Oliveira
    • 1
    • 2
  • Danilo Jorge Custódio
    • 3
    • 4
  • Claudia Ramos de Rainho
    • 5
  • Erika Morais
    • 5
  • Israel Felzenszwalb
    • 5
  • Sérgio Machado Corrêa
    • 6
  • Débora Almeida Azevedo
    • 1
  • Graciela Arbilla
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de QuímicaUniversidade Federal do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto Nacional de TecnologiaRio de JaneiroBrazil
  3. 3.Instituto de QuímicaUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  4. 4.Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht (HZG), Institute of Coastal ResearchGeesthachtGermany
  5. 5.Instituto de Biologia Roberto Alcantara GomesUniversidade do Estado do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil
  6. 6.Faculdade de TecnologiaUniversidade do Estado do Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

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