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Issue 11, 2011
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Characterization of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in fog–rain events

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Atmospheric polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) mainly originate from incomplete combustion or pyrolysis of materials containing carbon and hydrogen. They exist in gas and particle phases, as well as dissolved or suspended in precipitation (fog or rain). Current studies in atmospheric PAHs are predominantly focused on fog and rainwater samples. Some sampling difficulties are associated with fog samples. This study presented the first observation of the characteristics of PAHs in fog samples using a solid phase microextraction (SPME) technique. Eighteen fog samples were collected during ten fog events from March to December 2009 in the Shanghai area. PAHs were extracted by SPME and analyzed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). As the compounds were partially soluble in water, with solubility decreasing with increasing molecular weight, low molecular weight (LMW) PAH compounds were universally found in the fog water samples. Naphthalene (NaP), phenanthrene (Phe), anthracene (Ant) and fluoranthene (Flo) were dominant compounds in fog water. The total PAH concentration in fog water ranged from 0.03 to 6.67 μg L−1 (mean of 1.06 μg L−1), and was much higher in winter than in summer. The concentration of PAHs in fog or rain water decreased after undergoing a pre-rain or pre-fog wash. The average concentration of PAHs was higher in fog than in rain. Diagnostic ratio analysis suggested that petroleum and combustion were the dominant contributors to PAHs in urban Shanghai. Backward trajectories were calculated to determine the origin of the air masses, showing that air masses were mostly from the northeast territory.

Graphical abstract: Characterization of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in fog–rain events

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Article information

06 Jul 2011
31 Aug 2011
First published
18 Oct 2011

J. Environ. Monit., 2011,13, 2988-2993
Article type

Characterization of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in fog–rain events

X. Li, P. Li, L. Yan, J. Chen, T. Cheng and S. Xu, J. Environ. Monit., 2011, 13, 2988
DOI: 10.1039/C1EM10543D

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