A review of atmospheric benzene homologues in China: Characterization, health risk assessment, source identification and countermeasures

Hong Li , Yuanyuan Ji , Fuhong Gao , Zhenhai Wu , Lei Li , Dandan Li , Hao Zhang , Yujie Zhang , Jian Gao , Yingchen Bai , Tao WANG , Jianmin CHEN , Abdelwahid Mellouki , Christian GEORGE , Yujing MU


Received August 09, 2019,Revised , Accepted March 17, 2020, Available online May 04, 2020

Volume 32,2020,Pages 225-239

Benzene homologues are important chemical precursors to the formation of ground-level ozone and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) in the atmosphere, in addition, some toxic species are harmful to human health. Strict countermeasures have been taken to fight air pollution since 2013, and total amount control of volatile organic compounds is being promoted in China at present. Therefore, it is important to understand the pollution situation and the control status of ambient benzene homologues in China. This paper reviews research progress from published papers on pollution characteristics, atmospheric photochemical reactivity, health risk assessment and source identification of ambient benzene homologues in recent years in China, and also summarizes policies and countermeasures for the control of ambient benzene homologues and the relevant achievements. The total ambient levels of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX) shows a declining tendency from 2001 to 2016 in China. The mass concentrations of BTEX are generally higher in southern regions than in northern regions, and they present vertical decreasing variation characteristics with increasing altitude within the height range of about 5500 m. Toluene has the highest ozone formation potential and SOA formation potential both in urban areas and background areas, while benzene poses an obvious carcinogenic risk to the exposed adult populations in urban areas. Source identification of ambient benzene homologues suggested that local governments should adopt differentiated control strategies for ambient benzene homologues. Several recommendations are put forward for future research and policy-making on the control of ambient benzene homologues in China.

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