Qianzhuo Gao1, Yulong Yan 1, Rumei Li1,2, Yang Xu1,2, Yueyuan Niu1, Chenglong Liu1, Kai Xie1, Zeiwei Chang1, Dongmei Hu1, Zhiyong Li3, Lin Peng1

MOE Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental System Optimization, College of Environmental Science and Engineering, North China Electric Power University, Beijing 102206, China
School for Energy, Power and Mechanical Engineering, North China Electric Power University, Beijing 102206, China
School of Environmental Science and Engineering, North China Electric Power University, Baoding 07100, China

Received: August 21, 2019
Revised: November 4, 2019
Accepted: November 21, 2019
Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2019.08.0402  

Cite this article:

Gao, Q., Yan, Y., Li, R., Xu, Y., Niu, Y., Liu, C., Xie, K., Chang, Z., Hu, D., Li, Z. and Peng, L. (2020). Characteristics of Volatile Organic Compounds during Different Pollution Periods in Winter in Yuncheng, a Typical City in North China. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20: 97-107. doi: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.08.0402.


  • VOCs during different pollution periods in winter in Yuncheng were studied.
  • VOC levels in pollution period were about 2.3 times those in clean period.
  • Vehicle and coal combustion were important contributors of VOCs in Yuncheng.
  • Low levels of solvent usage and industrial source contributed highly to SOA.
  • Controlling aromatics was key to reduce public health risk.


The composition characteristics and health risks of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and their effects on secondary organic aerosol (SOA) during polluted and clean periods in winter 2018 for Yuncheng, a typical city in North China, were studied. The average concentration of VOCs was 2.3 times higher during the polluted period (105.29 µg m–3) than the clean period (45.78 µg m–3), whereas the average concentrations of the alkanes, alkenes, and aromatics were 3.4, 2.1, and 3.9 times higher, respectively, during the polluted period than the clean period. In addition, the VOC concentration was significantly influenced by meteorological conditions. Using positive matrix factorization (PMF), seven sources of atmospheric VOCs were identified, with the largest factors being vehicle emission (27.89%), coal combustion (23.37%), liquefied petroleum gas/natural gas evaporation (18.30%), and industrial emission (15.51%). Vehicle emission (30.04%) was the primary contributor during the polluted period, whereas coal combustion (33.53%) was the primary contributor during the clean period. The SOA formation potential (which almost exceeded 80%) was influenced by industrial emission (28.80%), solvent usage (26.30%), and vehicle emission (24.85%). Additionally, an assessment of the health risks of six aromatics based on the health risk exposure model of the United States Environmental Protection Agency revealed that the non-cancer risk was higher during the polluted period (6.61 × 10–2) than the clean period (2.20 × 10–2) but still below the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) limit (1.00) and therefore negligible for the exposed population. However, the carcinogenic index of benzene (2.85 × 10–5 to 5 × 10–5) exceeded 10–6, suggesting a higher carcinogenic risk. Large-scale energy restructuring during recent years has sharply reduced coal combustion, but the VOC concentration has dramatically increased due to vehicle emission. Hence, regulating vehicle emissions is an effective strategy for controlling VOCs in Yuncheng.

Keywords: Volatile organic compounds; Source apportionment; Secondary organic aerosol formation potential; Health risk assessment; Pollution period.

Impact Factor: 2.735

5-Year Impact Factor: 2.827

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