Hsin-Chieh Kung1, Bo-Wun Huang2, Justus Kavita Mutuku  1,3,4, Guo-Ping Chang-Chien This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1,3,4

1 Institute of Environmental Toxin and Emerging-Contaminant Research, Cheng Shiu University, Kaohsiung 833301, Taiwan
2 Department of Mechanical and Institute of Mechatronic Engineering, Cheng Shiu University, Kaohsiung 833301, Taiwan
3 Super micro mass Research and Technology Center, Cheng Shiu University, Kaohsiung 833301, Taiwan
4 Center for Environmental Toxin and Emerging-Contaminant Research, Cheng Shiu University, Kaohsiung 833301, Taiwan

Received: November 8, 2023
Revised: January 18, 2024
Accepted: January 20, 2024

 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.230270  

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Cite this article:

Kung, H.C., Huang, B.W., Mutuku, J.K., Chang-Chien, G.P. (2024). Spatial Variations in PAHs and Nitro-PAHs Bound to Total Suspended Solids in Urban Locations in Taiwan. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.230270


  • TSP-bound PAHs ranged from 446–3092 pg m3, while nitro-PAHs were 24–290 pg m3.
  • Low total nitro-PAHs/PAHs ratios imply low atmospheric oxidation potential.
  • High molecular weight PAHs dominated the congener profiles.
  • Diagnostic ratios indicate the dominance of pyrogenic over petrogenic emissions.
  • Control measures for PAHs and nitro-PAHs should target diesel engines.


The concentration of 16 PAHs and 13 nitro-PAHs bound to total suspended particles were evaluated in outdoor environments in three cluster study locations in the western side of Taiwan. Samples were collected using U.S.EPA, Method 23A, 1996 with XAD-2, GF7. Analysis was performed using a gas chromatograph tandem mass spectrometer (GC-MS/MS) Agilent 7890A GC, USA, equipped with a ZB-EPA-EU 30 m×0.25 mm×0.20 μm, column (Agilent, J&W, USA), coupled to Waters Xevo TQ-S (Waters, UK). The concentrations of PAHs and nitro-PAHs bound to TSP increased southward, whereby the mean ∑TSP-bound PAHs were 723.2 pg m-3, 1633 pg m-3and 1810 pg m-3, while ∑TSP-bound nitro-PAHs were 50 pg m-3, 107 pg m-3, and 209 pg m-3, for the study area A in Tainan, B in north Kaohsiung, and C, in south Kaohsiung, respectively. Diagnostic ratios indicate the dominance of combustion processes, especially from diesel engines, in the emission of PAHs and nitro-PAHs compared to petrogenic emissions. The improved understanding gained from this investigation provides a valuable springboard for probing the role of PAHs and nitro-PAHs in diseases of unclear etiology in urban areas.

Keywords: PAHs, Nitro-PAHs, Sources, Spatial variations, Urban, Diagnostic ratios

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