Articles | Volume 14, issue 17
Research article
09 Sep 2014
Research article |  | 09 Sep 2014

Contributions of vehicular carbonaceous aerosols to PM2.5 in a roadside environment in Hong Kong

X. H. H. Huang, Q. J. Bian, P. K. K. Louie, and J. Z. Yu

Abstract. Hourly measurements of elemental carbon (EC) and organic carbon (OC) were made at Mong Kok, a roadside air quality monitoring station in Hong Kong, for a year, from May 2011 to April 2012. The monthly average EC concentrations were 3.8–4.9 μg C m−3, accounting for 9.2–17.7% of the PM2.5 mass (21.5–49.7 μg m−3). The EC concentrations showed little seasonal variation and peaked twice daily, coinciding with the traffic rush hours of a day. Strong correlations were found between EC and NOx concentrations, especially during the rush hours in the morning, confirming vehicular emissions as the dominant source of EC at this site. The analysis by means of the minimum OC / EC ratio approach to determine the OC / EC ratio representative of primary vehicular emissions yields a value of 0.5 for (OC / EC)vehicle. By applying the derived (OC / EC)vehicle ratio to the data set, the monthly average vehicle-related OC was estimated to account for 17–64% of the measured OC throughout the year. Vehicle-related OC was also estimated using receptor modeling of a combined data set of hourly NOx, OC, EC and volatile organic compounds characteristic of different types of vehicular emissions. The OCvehicle estimations by the two different approaches were in good agreement. When both EC and vehicle-derived organic matter (OM) (assuming an OM-to-OC ratio of 1.4) are considered, vehicular carbonaceous aerosols contributed ~ 7.3 μg m−3 to PM2.5, accounting for ~ 20% of PM2.5 mass (38.3 μg m−3) during winter, when Hong Kong received significant influence of air pollutants transported from outside, and ~ 30% of PM2.5 mass (28.2 μg m−3) during summertime, when local emission sources were dominant. A reduction of 3.8 μg m−3 in vehicular carbonaceous aerosols was estimated during 07:00–11:00 (i.e., rush hours on weekdays) on Sundays and public holidays. This could mainly be attributed to less on-road public transportation (e.g., diesel-powered buses) in comparison with non-holidays. These multiple lines of evidence confirm local vehicular emissions as an important source of PM2.5 in an urban roadside environment and suggest the importance of vehicular emission control in reducing exposure to PM2.5 in busy roadside environments.

Final-revised paper