Articles | Volume 8, issue 5
04 Mar 2008
 | 04 Mar 2008

Real-time characterization of particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in ambient aerosols and from motor-vehicle exhaust

A. Polidori, S. Hu, S. Biswas, R. J. Delfino, and C. Sioutas

Abstract. A photo-electric aerosol sensor, a diffusion charger, an Aethalometer, and a continuous particle counter were used along with other real-time instruments to characterize the particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (p-PAH) content, and the physical/chemical characteristics of aerosols collected a) in Wilmington (CA) near the Los Angeles port and close to 2 major freeways, and b) at a dynamometer testing facility in downtown Los Angeles (CA), where 3 diesel trucks were tested. In Wilmington, the p-PAH, surface area, particle number, and "black" carbon concentrations were 4-8 times higher at 09:00–11:00 a.m. than between 17:00 and 18:00 p.m., suggesting that during rush hour traffic people living in that area are exposed to a higher number of diesel combustion particles enriched in p-PAH coatings. Dynamometer tests revealed that the p-PAH emissions from the "baseline" truck (no catalytic converter) were up to 200 times higher than those from the 2 vehicles equipped with advanced emission control technologies, and increased when the truck was accelerating. In Wilmington, integrated filter samples were collected and analyzed to determine the concentrations of the most abundant p-PAHs. A correlation between the total p-PAH concentration (μg/m3) and the measured photo-electric aerosol sensor signal (fA) was also established. Estimated ambient p-PAH concentrations (Average=0.64 ng/m3; Standard deviation=0.46 ng/m3 were in good agreement with those reported in previous studies conducted in Los Angeles during a similar time period. Finally, we calculated the approximate theoretical lifetime (70 years per 24-h/day) lung-cancer risk in the Wilmington area due to inhalation of multi-component p-PAHs and "black" carbon. Our results indicate that the lung-cancer risk is highest during rush hour traffic and lowest in the afternoon, and that the genotoxic risk of the considered p-PAHs does not seem to contribute to a significant part of the total lung-cancer risk attributable to "black" carbon.

Final-revised paper