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Source characterization of volatile organic compounds affecting the air quality in a coastal urban area of South Texas.

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Department of Environmental Engineering, Frank H. Dotterweich College of Engineering, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Kingsville, Texas, USA.


Selected Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) emitted from various anthropogenic sources including industries and motor vehicles act as primary precursors of ozone, while some VOC are classified as air toxic compounds. Significantly large VOC emission sources impact the air quality in Corpus Christi, Texas. This urban area is located in a semi-arid region of South Texas and is home to several large petrochemical refineries and industrial facilities along a busy ship-channel. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has setup two continuous ambient monitoring stations (CAMS 633 and 634) along the ship channel to monitor VOC concentrations in the urban atmosphere. The hourly concentrations of 46 VOC compounds were acquired from TCEQ for a comprehensive source apportionment study. The primary objective of this study was to identify and quantify the sources affecting the ambient air quality within this urban airshed. Principal Component Analysis/Absolute Principal Component Scores (PCA/APCS) was applied to the dataset. PCA identified five possible sources accounting for 69% of the total variance affecting the VOC levels measured at CAMS 633 and six possible sources affecting CAMS 634 accounting for 75% of the total variance. APCS identified natural gas emissions to be the major source contributor at CAMS 633 and it accounted for 70% of the measured VOC concentrations. The other major sources identified at CAMS 633 included flare emissions (12%), fugitive gasoline emissions (9%), refinery operations (7%), and vehicle exhaust (2%). At CAMS 634, natural gas sources were identified as the major source category contributing to 31% of the observed VOC. The other sources affecting this site included: refinery operations (24%), flare emissions (22%), secondary industrial processes (12%), fugitive gasoline emissions (8%) and vehicle exhaust (3%).

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