Yu Wang1,2, Guang Yang1,2, Litao Wang This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1,2, Le Zhao1,2, Shangping Ji1,2, Mengyao Qi1,2, XiaoHan Lu1,2, Zhentong Liu1,2, Jingyao Tan1,2, Yingying Liu1,2, Qing Wang1,2, Ruiguang Xu1,2,3 

College of Energy and Environmental Engineering, Hebei University of Engineering, Handan, Hebei 056038, Chin
Hebei Key Laboratory of Air Pollution Cause and Impact (preparatory), Handan, Hebei 056038, China
Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xi'an 710061, China


Received: December 19, 2019
Revised: March 26, 2020
Accepted: April 11, 2020

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2019.11.0608

Cite this article:

Wang, Y., Yang, G., Wang, L., Zhao, L., Ji, S., Qi, M., Lu, X., Liu, Z., Tan, J., Liu, Y., Wang, Q. and Xu, R. (2020). Characteristics and Source Apportionment of VOCs in a City with Complex Pollution in China. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 20: 2196–2210. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2019.11.0608


  • Measurement of 56 VOCs were first investigated for a whole year in Handan, China.
  • The dominant VOCs groups were alkanes, alkenes, aromatics and alkyne.
  • Chemical reactivity of precursors and O3 formation mechanism were analyzed.
  • Source apportionment of VOCs was pursued using PCA.


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are important precursors in the formation of ozone (O3) and secondary organic aerosol (SOA). Hence, using an online monitor, we measured the concentrations of 56 VOC species in Handan, one of the most polluted cities in China, from Sep. 2017 till Aug. 2018. We also characterized the VOC pollution by measuring the O3 and NOx and determining the chemical reactivity of the VOCs at different levels of O3 pollution, analyzing the regional O3 formation mechanisms, and apportioning the VOC sources. The daily VOC concentrations displayed a wide range, from 37.7 to 288.9 µg m–3, with an average of 112.0 ± 45.5 µg m–3, during the observation period, and the contribution of alkenes and other aromatics to the O3 formation potential (OFP) of the VOCs was higher on medium pollution days than clean days. Furthermore, the majority of the O3 during spring and winter was formed in VOC-sensitive regimes, whereas the high diurnal concentrations during summer and autumn were produced in NOx-sensitive regimes. Based on the i-butane/n-butane and i-propane/n-propane ratios, the main sources of butane and propane were vehicular exhaust and liquid gasoline, respectively. Source apportionment by principal component analysis (PCA) revealed that the VOCs in Handan originated from vehicular emission, industrial production, solvent use, gasoline evaporation, and combustion.

Keywords: Volatile organic compounds; Chemical reactivity; Ozone formation; Source apportionment; Handan city

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