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Characteristics and Source Apportionment of Volatile Organic Compounds for Different Functional Zones in a Coastal City of Southeast China

Category: Air Pollution and Health Effects

Volume: 18 | Issue: 11 | Pages: 2840-2852
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2018.04.0122
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Baoye Hu1,2,3, Hui Xu4, Junjun Deng1,2, Zhigang Yi5, Jinsheng Chen 1,2, Lingling Xu1,2, Zhenyu Hong1,2,3, Xiaoqiu Chen6, Youwei Hong 1,2

  • 1 Center for Excellence in Regional Atmospheric Environment, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen 361021, China
  • 2 Key Lab of Urban Environment and Health, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen 361021, China
  • 3 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100086, China
  • 4 China XinXing Construction & Development Co. Ltd., Beijing 100039, China
  • 5 Academy of Resource and Environment, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou 350002, China
  • 6 Environmental Monitoring Center of Fujian, Fuzhou 350003, China


Seasonal and spatial pattern of VOCs were investigated in Xiamen, China.
The PMF model was used to quantify the sources of VOCs in six functional zones.
VOCs characteristic ratios were used to evaluate the aging of VOCs.


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are the key precursors of tropospheric ozone and contributors to the formation of secondary organic aerosols (SOAs). VOCs from six functional zones in a coastal city in China were collected via SUMMA canister and determined via gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The average annual concentrations of the total VOCs (TVOCs) were as follows: background site (36.00 µg m–3) < residential site (48.71 µg m–3) < port site (61.09 µg m–3) ≈ development site (62.25 µg m–3) < traffic site (73.82 µg m–3) < industrial site (98.33 µg m–3). The concentrations of TVOCs in spring and summer were higher than in autumn and winter. The ozone formation potentials (OFPs) were calculated, and the results indicated that 1-butene exhibited the highest OFP in the residential zone, while toluene exhibited the highest value in the other functional zones. The ratio of xylene to ethylbenzene was used to analyze the aging of atmospheric VOCs at the background site, which was affected by air pollution transported from urban areas. The sources of VOCs, namely, vehicle exhaust, fuel evaporation, biomass burning, industrial processes, and coal combustion, were identified with the Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) model. Vehicle exhaust represented the largest source of atmospheric VOCs for every season, ranging 22.41–38.95%; additionally, the percentage of fuel evaporation increased in summer, reaching as high as 25.94%. The contributions of biomass burning were larger in autumn (21.11%) and winter (18.01%) than in spring (11.23%) and summer (16.94%), probably reflecting crop straw burning in the later seasons. Vehicle exhaust was the dominant source of VOCs (30.04–44.39%) in all functional zones, except for the residential site, which received its largest contribution (36.20%) from fuel evaporation.


Volatile organic compounds Source apportionment Ozone formation potential Positive matrix factorization Coastal city

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