Seasonal and diurnal variations of atmospheric non-methane hydrocarbons in Guangzhou, China

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2012 May;9(5):1859-73. doi: 10.3390/ijerph9051859. Epub 2012 May 11.


In recent decades, high ambient ozone concentrations have become one of the major regional air quality issues in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region. Non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHCs), as key precursors of ozone, were found to be the limiting factor in photochemical ozone formation for large areas in the PRD. For source apportioning of NMHCs as well as ozone pollution control strategies, it is necessary to obtain typical seasonal and diurnal patterns of NMHCs with a large pool of field data. To date, few studies have focused on seasonal and diurnal variations of NMHCs in urban areas of Guangzhou. This study explored the seasonal variations of most hydrocarbons concentrations with autumn maximum and spring minimum in Guangzhou. The diurnal variations of most anthropogenic NMHCs typically showed two-peak pattern with one at 8:00 in the morning and another at 20:00 in the evening, both corresponding to traffic rush hours in Guangzhou, whereas isoprene displayed a different bimodal diurnal curve. Propene, ethene, m, p-xylene and toluene were the four largest contributors to ozone formation in Guangzhou, based on the evaluation of individual NMHCs' photochemical reactivity. Therefore, an effective strategy for controlling ozone pollution may be achieved by the reduction of vehicle emissions in Guangzhou.

Keywords: non-methane hydrocarbons; ozone formation; photochemical reactivity; seasonal and diurnal variations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • China
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • Seasons
  • Time Factors
  • Vehicle Emissions


  • Air Pollutants
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Vehicle Emissions