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Assessing the contribution of diffuse domestic burning as a source of PCDD/Fs, PCBs, and PAHs to the UK atmosphere.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date15/07/2000
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Number of pages8
Original languageEnglish


Ambient air samples were taken concurrently at four sites in northwest England to assess the role of domestic burning of coal/wood on ambient levels of PCDD/Fs, PCBs (including co-PCBs), and PAHs. Fifty-six samples (ca. 800 m3 each) were taken in January and February 1998 at an urban site, a rural reference site, and two village sites, which relied on domestic burning for space heating. Correlations with meteorological parameters found the urban site to be a source area of all POPs investigated, while the village sites had a local impact of PAHs and, to a lesser extent, PCDD/Fs. PCDD/F-levels changed simultaneously at all sites, pointing toward a combination of regional meteorological effects and increased domestic burning. Two sampling events, marked by low ambient temperatures and wind speeds, showed substantial increases in PCDD/F and PAH concentrations (by factors of 2−5). We estimate that local sources at the villages accounted for 25% of the ΣTEQ (with 75% stemming from advective transport) and 75% of the ΣPAHs in the ambient air at those sites (25% advective transport) during our winter sampling events. This study singled out PCDFs, notably the lower chlorinated ones, as good indicators of domestic burning, together with a range of PAHs. The co-PCBs #126 and 169 were found to behave like PCDD/Fs and PAHs rather than the more abundant “regular” PCBs, confirming that they have different sources to the environment.