Ningning Zhang 1,2, Junji Cao1,2, Lijuan Li1,2,3, Steven Sai Hang Ho1,2,4, Qiyuan Wang1,2, Chongshu Zhu1,2, Linlin Wang5

Key Laboratory of Aerosol Chemistry and Physics, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi’an 710061, China
State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology (SKLLQG), Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi’an 710061, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, Reno, NV 89512, USA
College of Architectural Engineering, Binzhou University, Binzhou 256603, China

Received: December 17, 2017
Revised: February 9, 2018
Accepted: February 9, 2018
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Cite this article:
Zhang, N., Cao, J., Li, L., Ho, S.S.H., Wang, Q., Zhu, C. and Wang, L. (2018). Characteristics and Source Identification of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and n-Alkanes in PM2.5 in Xiamen. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 18: 1673-1683.


  • Air quality in Xiamen is improving from last decade.
  • RH and T were the most important meteorological parameters influencing PAHs.
  • Fuel combustion was the mainly contributor for PAHs and n-alkane.
  • PM2.5-bound PAHs pollution was not serious to human health in Xiamen.



PM2.5 samples were collected to characterize the organic compounds of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and n-alkanes in Xiamen, China, in 2013. The concentrations of PM2.5, PAHs and n-alkanes were 55.53 µg m–3 and 22.14 µg m–3, 15.73 ± 6.25 ng m–3 and 5.65 ± 3.73 ng m–3, and 148.57 ± 36.84 ng m–3 and 97.53 ± 67.46 ng m–3 in winter and summer, respectively, demonstrating higher pollutant levels in wintertime. Benzo[e]pyrene (BeP) was the most abundant PAH, accounting for 32% and 26% of the total quantified PAHs in winter and summer, respectively, followed by coronene (Cor) and phenanthrene (Phe). 5-ring PAHs were the most dominant group, contributing 50.8% and 44.1% to the total quantified PAHs in winter and summer, respectively. Two peaks were exhibited by the homologue distributions of n-alkanes, and the dominant components were enriched in the high molecular weight fraction. Meteorological parameters had a stronger impact on the atmospheric PAH levels in summer than winter, and the most significant parameter was relative humidity (RH), followed by temperature. The diagnostic ratios indicated that PAHs in Xiamen were mainly contributed by petroleum combustion in the two seasons and the concentrations of n-alkanes were mainly influenced by anthropogenic sources. The annual values of the benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) equivalent concentration and incremental lifetime cancer risk (ILCR) were 0.83 ± 0.63 ng m–3 and 7.17 × 10–5 in winter and 1.11 × 10–4 ng m–3 and 3.29 × 10–5 in summer, respectively. The findings illustrated that the overall exposure risk to PM2.5-bound PAHs did not trigger an alert in Xiamen, but higher risks in winter were still shown to exist.

Keywords: PM2.5; PAHs and n-alkanes; Source characterization; Health effects; Xiamen.


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