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J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng. 2017 Mar 21;52(4):303-312. doi: 10.1080/10934529.2016.1258862. Epub 2016 Dec 7.

Characteristics, sources, and cytotoxicity of atmospheric polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in urban roadside areas of Hangzhou, China.

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a State Key Laboratory of Industrial Control Technology, College of Control Science and Engineering, Zhejiang University , Hangzhou , China.


The primary objective of this study is to understand the profiles, sources and cytotoxic effects of atmospheric polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are closely related to urban air contamination and public health, in urban roadside environments. On-road sampling campaigns were conducted from 2014 to 2015 at three urban road sites in Hangzhou, China. Sixteen gaseous and particulate matter (PM) 2.5-bound PAHs were identified and quantified using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The total PAH concentrations at the three sites ranged from 750 to1142 ng/m3 and 1050 to 1483 ng/m3 in summer and winter, respectively. Low molecular weight PAHs were the most abundant compounds (77-86%) and primarily existed in gas phase. The concentrations and phase distributions of high molecular weight PAHs were varied at three sites due to the differences in traffic volume, vehicle composition, engine loading, and nearby artificial activity. Diagnostic ratios of the principal mass (m/z,178, 202, 228 and 276) parent PAHs were statistically described to determine the PAH sources to urban roadsides; principal component analysis (PCA) was applied to apportion the sources. The results indicated that high- and low-temperature fuel processes, as well as residential and industrial emissions, were major contributors to roadside PAHs. The cytotoxic potential of the roadside PAHs was evaluated using a human epithelial lung cell line (A549). Cell viability was measured after a direct exposure to PAH extract. The results reflected the profiles of roadside PAHs at the three sites. The cytotoxicity of reference PAHs was evaluated to provide further insights into the cytotoxic potential of PAHs. We found that low molecular weight PAHs, which are less cytotoxic compounds, synergistically promoted the lethal effect of cytotoxic compounds, posing a potential threat to public health.


PCA; PM2.5; cell death; diagnostic ratios

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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