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Sci Total Environ. 2008 Jun 25;396(2-3):100-10. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.02.018. Epub 2008 Apr 18.

Variation in particulate PAHs levels and their relation with the transboundary movement of the air masses.

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Centre for Atmospheric and Instrumentation Research, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, AL10 9AB, United Kingdom.


The levels of particulate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were determined with a fast analytical approach to study their seasonal variations at Menen (Belgium) during 2003; they were found to be 5-7 times higher in January, February and December, in comparison to May, June and August. The annual average concentration of the sum of 16 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criteria PAHs was 6.7 ng/m3 and around 63% of it was found to be probably carcinogenic to humans. The application of diagnostic ratio and principal component analysis showed vehicular emission as a major source. An increased ratio of 'combustion PAHs' to 'total EPA-PAHs' during the winter season indicated towards combustion activities. Further, the differences in PAHs concentration were assessed with relation to backward air mass trajectories, which show that the levels of PAHs increase when there is an air mass movement from Central and Western Europe and a fall when the trajectories spend most of their 4-day time over the Atlantic Ocean or in the Arctic region.

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