Cite this article: Saha, M., Maharana, D., Kurumisawa, R., Takada, H., Yeo, B.G., Rodrigues, A.C., Bhattacharya, B., Kumata, H., Okuda, T., He, K., Ma, Y., Nakajima, F., Zakaria, M.P., Giang, D.H. and Viet, P.H. (2017). Seasonal Trends of Atmospheric PAHs in Five Asian Megacities and Source Detection Using Suitable Biomarkers.
Aerosol Air Qual. Res.
17: 2247-2262. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2017.05.0163
PAH levels increased as Kuala Lumpur ≈ Tokyo < Hanoi << Kolkata << Beijing.
Concentrations of PAHs were higher in winter and dry season, mainly due to heating.
PAHs derived from vehicle exhaust were ubiquitously detected in all cities.
Abundant β-hopanes indicate coal-combustion-derived PAHs in winter in Beijing.
Levoglucosan signified biomass-burning-derived PAHs in dry season in Malaysia.
The most prevalent pollutant, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is now plenteously distributed in the global atmosphere. We recently quantified 36 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) associated with aerosols (particulate matter: PM) in five Asian cities: Tokyo (Japan), Beijing (China), Kolkata (India), Hanoi (Vietnam), and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). Average atmospheric PAH concentrations (∑12 PAHs-ng m–3) increased in the order of Kuala Lumpur (2.99) ≈ Tokyo (3.95) < Hanoi (7.99) << Kolkata (63.5) << Beijing (142.8). The most abundant PAHs in PM samples in these cities were chrysene, benz[a]anthracene, benzofluoranthenes, benzo[a]pyrene, and benzo[e]pyrene. We used the PAH compositions, especially the relative abundances of alkylated PAHs, and hopanes to determine vehicle exhaust-derived PAHs, and levoglucosan as a tracer for biomass burning, especially from wood combustion. Vehicle exhaust contributed to atmospheric PAHs in all cities, indicated by higher ratios of (C3017α)/total PAHs and MPAHs/PAHs than coal and wood combustion products. Coal combustion contributed also in winter aerosols in Beijing, indicated by higher abundance of β isomers i.e., 17β21β (H)-C30hopane (C3017β) and 17β21β (H)-C29hopane (C2917β) signifying mass use of coal for heating. The ratio of levoglucosan/PAHs was high in Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi, suggesting greater inputs of PAHs from biomass burning there.