Articles | Volume 14, issue 5
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 2467–2477, 2014
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-14-2467-2014
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 2467–2477, 2014
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-14-2467-2014

Research article 10 Mar 2014

Research article | 10 Mar 2014

Investigating PAH relative reactivity using congener profiles, quinone measurements and back trajectories

M. S. Alam1, J. M. Delgado-Saborit1, C. Stark1, and R. M. Harrison1,2 M. S. Alam et al.
  • 1Division of Environmental Health & Risk Management, School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK
  • 2Department of Environmental Sciences/Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, 21589, Saudi Arabia

Abstract. Vapour and particle-associated concentrations of 15 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and 11 PAH quinones have been measured in winter and summer campaigns at the rural site, Weybourne in eastern England. Concentrations of individual PAH are relatively smaller than average concentrations measured previously at urban sites in the UK. The concentrations of PAH of the air masses originating from southern England and mainland UK are significantly larger than those from Eastern Europe and the North Atlantic, while quinone to parent PAH ratios show an inverse behaviour, being highest in the more aged North Atlantic polar air masses. While concentrations of 1,2-naphthoquinone decline from winter to summer, those of 1,4-naphthoquinone and anthraquinone increase suggesting a photochemical formation pathway. A comparison of congener concentration profiles measured at Weybourne with those from an urban source area (Birmingham) reveals differential losses at the rural site, especially evident in fluoranthene : pyrene ratios and consistent with the known rates of vapour phase reactions of 3 and 4 ring compounds with hydroxyl radical. The ratios of quinones to their parent PAH at Weybourne are greater than those in the urban source area indicating either more rapid loss processes for PAH, or formation of quinones during advection of the air mass, or probably both.

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