Atmospheric gaseous aromatic hydrocarbons in eastern China based on mobile measurements: Spatial distribution, secondary formation potential and source apportionment

Cheng Huang , Lingling Yuan , Hongli Wang , Yaqin Gao , Guofa Ren , Yiqun Lu , Shengao Jing , Wen Tan , Liang Zhu , Yu Shang , Jing An


Received January 04, 2022,Revised , Accepted August 02, 2022, Available online August 13, 2022

Volume 130,2023,Pages 102-113

Monocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (MAHs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are both well known as hazardous air pollutants and also important anthropogenic precursors of tropospheric ozone (O3) and secondary organic aerosols (SOA). In recent years, there have been intensive studies covering MAHs emission from various sources and their behavior under stimulated photochemical conditions. Yet in-situ measurements of PAHs presence and variations in ambient air are sparse. Herein we conducted large geometrical scale mobile measurements for 16 aromatic hydrocarbons (AHs, including 7 MAHs and 9 PAHs) in eastern China between October 27 and November 8, 2019. This unique dataset has allowed for some insights in terms of AHs concentration variations, accompanying chemical composition, source contributions and spatial distributions in eastern China. In general, AHs showed a clear concentration variability between the south and the north of the Yangtze River Delta (YRD). The concentrations of PAHs were approximately 9% of AHs, but contributed 23% of SOA formation potential. Source apportionment via positive matrix factorization (PMF) model revealed that industrial processes as the largest source (44%) of observed AHs, followed by solvent usage (21%), vehicle exhaust (19%), coal combustion (11%) and coking processes (6%). In the perspective of PAHs sources, coal combustion emissions were identified as the dominating factor of a share of 41%–52% in eastern China. Our findings complemented the simultaneously monitoring information of PAHs and MAHs in eastern China, revealed the importance of PAHs to SOA formation and highlighted the necessity of formulating strategies to reduce emissions from anthropogenic sources and reduce risks to human health.

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