Size distributions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in urban atmosphere: sorption mechanism and source contributions to respiratory deposition
Abstract. In order to better understand the particle size distribution of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their source contribution to human respiratory system, size-resolved PAHs have been studied in ambient aerosols at a megacity Shanghai site during a 1-year period (2012–2013). The results showed the PAHs had a bimodal distribution with one mode peak in the fine-particle size range (0.4–2.1 µm) and another mode peak in the coarse-particle size range (3.3–9.0 µm). Along with the increase in ring number of PAHs, the intensity of the fine-mode peak increased, while the coarse-mode peak decreased. Plotting of log(PAH / PM) against log(Dp) showed that all slope values were above −1, suggesting that multiple mechanisms (adsorption and absorption) controlled the particle size distribution of PAHs. The total deposition flux of PAHs in the respiratory tract was calculated as being 8.8 ± 2.0 ng h−1. The highest lifetime cancer risk (LCR) was estimated at 1.5 × 10−6, which exceeded the unit risk of 10−6. The LCR values presented here were mainly influenced by accumulation mode PAHs which came from biomass burning (24 %), coal combustion (25 %), and vehicular emission (27 %). The present study provides us with a mechanistic understanding of the particle size distribution of PAHs and their transport in the human respiratory system, which can help develop better source control strategies.