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Source-oriented risk assessment of inhalation exposure to ambient polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and contributions of non-priority isomers in urban Nanjing, a megacity located in Yangtze River Delta, China

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  • Shaojie Zhuo
  • Guofeng Shen
  • Ying Zhu
  • Wei Du
  • Xuelian Pan
  • Tongchao Li
  • Yang Han
  • Bengang Li
  • Junfeng Liu
  • Hefa Cheng
  • Baoshan Xing
  • Shu Tao
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Environmental Pollution
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)796-809
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date30/01/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Sixteen U.S. EPA priority polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and eleven non-priority isomers including some dibenzopyrenes were analyzed to evaluate health risk attributable to inhalation exposure to ambient PAHs and contributions of the non-priority PAHs in a megacity Nanjing, east China. The annual average mass concentration of the total 16 EPA priority PAHs in air was 51.1 ± 29.8 ng/m3, comprising up to 93% of the mass concentration of all 27 PAHs, however, the estimated Incremental Lifetime Cancer Risk (ILCR) due to inhalation exposure would be underestimated by 63% on average if only accounting the 16 EPA priority PAHs. The risk would be underestimated by 13% if only particulate PAHs were considered, though gaseous PAHs made up to about 70% of the total mass concentration. During the last fifteen years, ambient Benzo[a]pyrene decreased significantly in the city which was consistent with the declining trend of PAHs emissions. Source contributions to the estimated ILCR were much different from the contributions for the total mass concentration, calling for the introduce of important source-oriented risk assessments. Emissions from gasoline vehicles contributed to 12% of the total mass concentration of 27 PAHs analyzed, but regarding relative contributions to the overall health risk, gasoline vehicle emissions contributed 45% of the calculated ILCR. Dibenzopyrenes were a group of non-priority isomers largely contributing to the calculated ILCR, and vehicle emissions were probably important sources of these high molecular weight isomers. Ambient dibenzo[a,l]pyrene positively correlated with the priority PAH Benzo[g,h,i]perylene. The study indicates that inclusion of non-priority PAHs could be valuable for both PAH source apportionment and health risk assessment.