Tzu-Ting Yang 1, Chin-Yu Hsu2, Yu-Cheng Chen2,3, Li-Hao Young3, Cheng-Hsiung Huang1, Chun-Hung Ku1

  • 1 Department of Environmental Engineering and Health, Yuanpei University of Medical Technology, Hsin Chu 300, Taiwan
  • 2 National Environmental Health Research Center, National Health Research Institutes, Miaoli 35053, Taiwan
  • 3 Department of Occupational Safety and Health, China Medical University, Taichung 40402, Taiwan

Received: June 30, 2016
Revised: September 15, 2016
Accepted: September 16, 2016
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Cite this article:
Yang, T.T., Hsu, C.Y., Chen, Y.C., Young, L.H., Huang, C.H. and Ku, C.H. (2017). Characteristics, Sources, and Health Risks of Atmospheric PM2.5-Bound Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 17: 563-573.


  • The PM2.5, total PAHs, and BaPeq mass concentrations exhibited seasonal variations.
  • The total BaPeq of PAHs in winter was about 6.21 times higher than that in summer.
  • The major total BaPeq contributors were BaP, BbF, INP and DBA.
  • The annual average ECR of PAHs (1.60 × 10–5) is higher than the USEPA guideline (10–6).
  • Main sources were stationary emission sources, unburned petroleum and traffic emissions.



This study investigated PM2.5-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in order to determine the seasonal changes in total benzo[a]pyrene equivalent (BaPeq) concentrations and to identify contamination sources by using a positive matrix factorization model, a conditional probability function, and characteristic ratios of PAHs in Hsinchu. The sampling period was from September 2014 to August 2015. PM2.5 samplers equipped with 47-mm quartz membrane filters were operated at a flow rate of 16.7 L min–1 for 48 h. The concentrations of 20 PAHs were determined through gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. The results revealed the PM2.5, total PAHs, and BaPeq mass concentrations in the four seasons ranged from 4.91 to 58.5 µg m–3, 0.21 to 8.08 ng m–3, and 0.03 to 0.78 ng m–3, respectively. The PM2.5, total PAHs, and BaPeq mass concentrations were in the order winter > autumn > spring > summer and exhibited significant seasonal variations. The carcinogenic potency of PAHs in winter was approximately 6.21 times higher than that in summer. The major BaPeq contributors were BaP, BbF, INP, and DBA. BaP accounted for 49.0% of BaPeq concentrations in PM2.5 in all four seasons. The annual average lifetime excess cancer risk of PM2.5-bound PAHs (1.60 × 10–5) was higher than that specified in the United States Environmental Protection Agency guidelines (10–6). The two major sources were stationary emission sources and unburned petroleum and traffic emissions, which together accounted for 90.3% of PM2.5-bound PAHs.

Keywords: PM2.5; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon; Total benzo[a]pyrene equivalent; Hsinchu

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