Atmospheric concentrations and air-soil gas exchange of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in remote, rural village and urban areas of Beijing-Tianjin region, North China

Sci Total Environ. 2011 Jul 1;409(15):2942-50. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2011.04.021.


Forty passive air samplers were deployed to study the occurrence of gas and particulate phase PAHs in remote, rural village and urban areas of Beijing-Tianjin region, North China for four seasons (spring, summer, fall and winter) from 2007 to 2008. The influence of emissions on the spatial distribution pattern of air PAH concentrations was addressed. In addition, the air-soil gas exchange of PAHs was studied using fugacity calculations. The median gaseous and particulate phase PAH concentrations were 222 ng/m³ and 114 ng/m³, respectively, with a median total PAH concentration of 349 ng/m³. Higher PAH concentrations were measured in winter than in other seasons. Air PAH concentrations measured at the rural villages and urban sites in the northern mountain region were significantly lower than those measured at sites in the southern plain during all seasons. However, there was no significant difference in PAH concentrations between the rural villages and urban sites in the northern and southern areas. This urban-rural PAH distribution pattern was related to the location of PAH emission sources and the population distribution. The location of PAH emission sources explained 56%-77% of the spatial variation in ambient air PAH concentrations. The annual median air-soil gas exchange flux of PAHs was 42.2 ng/m²/day from soil to air. Among the 15 PAHs measured, acenaphthylene (ACY) and acenaphthene (ACE) contributed to more than half of the total exchange flux. Furthermore, the air-soil gas exchange fluxes of PAHs at the urban sites were higher than those at the remote and rural sites. In summer, more gaseous PAHs volatilized from soil to air because of higher temperatures and increased rainfall. However, in winter, more gaseous PAHs deposited from air to soil due to higher PAH emissions and lower temperatures. The soil TOC concentration had no significant influence on the air-soil gas exchange of PAHs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acenaphthenes / analysis
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data
  • Atmosphere / chemistry*
  • China
  • Cities
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • Soil / chemistry*


  • Acenaphthenes
  • Air Pollutants
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Soil
  • acenaphthylene
  • acenaphthene