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Sci Total Environ. 1998 Jun 30;217(1-2):165-73.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and diesel engine emission (elemental carbon) inside a car and a subway train.

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Institute of Environmental Analysis and Human Toxicology, Berlin, Germany.


Significant concentrations of potentially harmful substances can be present in the interior of vehicles. The main sources of PAHs and elemental carbon (EC) inside a car are likely to be combustion emissions, especially from coal and traffic. The same sources can also be important for the interior of a subway train for which there are specific sources in the tunnel system, for example diesel engines. Twice, in summer 1995 and winter 1996 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and diesel motor emission (estimated as elemental carbon) were determined in the interior of a car (a 2-year-old VW Golf with a three-way catalytic converter) and in the passenger compartment of a subway train (below ground). On each sampling day (in total 16 daily measurements in the car and 16 in the subway) the substances were determined in the breathing zone of the passengers from 07:00 h to 16:00 h under different meteorologic conditions (winter- and summertime). The car followed the route of the subway from the western Berlin borough of Spandau to the south-eastern borough of Neuk├Âlln, and back. The sampling represented a realistic exposure model for driving in a high traffic and polluted urban area. The electric subway train (also 2 years in use) connected the same parts of Berlin (31 km underground). The mean values obtained during the two measurement periods (summer/winter) inside the car were 1.0 and 3.2 ng/m3 for benzo[a]pyrene, 10.2 and 28.7 ng/m3 for total-measured-PAHs, 14.1 and 8.2 micrograms/m3 for EC and in the subway 0.7 and 4.0 ng/m3 for benzol[a]pyrene, 30.2 and 67.5 ng/m3 for total PAHs, 109 and 6.9 micrograms/m3 for EC. A comparison between subway and car exposures shows significantly higher concentrations of PAHs in the subway train, which can be explained by relatively high concentrations of fluoranthene and pyrene in the subway. So far a satisfactory explanation has not been found, but one source might be the wooden railway ties which were formerly preserved with tar based products. In wintertime in both transportation systems the concentrations of beno[a]pyrene are three to four times higher than in summer corresponding to the changing of the ambient air concentrations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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