Characteristics and diurnal variations of NMHCs at urban, suburban, and rural sites in the Pearl River Delta and a remote site in South China

J. H. Tang, L. Y. Chan, C. Y. Chan, Yok Sheung Li, C. C. Chang, S. C. Liu, D. Wu, Y. D. Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

164 Citations (Scopus)


The Pearl River Delta (PRD) is one of the most industrialized and urbanized regions in China. With rapid growth of the economy, it is suffering from deteriorating air quality. Non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHCs) were investigated at urban and suburban sites in Guangzhou (GZ), a rural site in PRD and a clean remote site in South China, in April 2005. Additional roadside samples in GZ and Qingxi (QX, a small industrial town in PRD), ambient air samples at the rooftop of a printing factory in QX and exhaust samples from liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)-fueled taxis in GZ were collected to help identify the source signatures of NMHCs. A large fraction of propane (47%) was found in exhaust samples from LPG-fueled taxis in GZ and extremely high levels of toluene (2.0-3.1 ppmv) were found at the rooftop of the printing factory in QX. Vehicular and industrial emissions were the main sources of NMHCs. The effect of vehicular emission on the ambient air varied among the three PRD sites. The impact of industrial emissions was widespread and they contributed greatly to the high levels of aromatic hydrocarbons, especially toluene, at the three PRD sites investigated. Leakage from vehicles fueled by LPG contributed mainly to the high levels of propane and n-butane at the urban GZ site. Ethane and ethyne from long-range transport and isoprene from local biogenic emission were the main contributors to the total hydrocarbons at the remote site. Diurnal variations of NMHCs showed that the contribution from vehicular emissions varied with traffic conditions and were more influenced by fresh emissions at the urban site and by aged air at the suburban and rural sites. Isoprene from biogenic emission contributed largely to the ozone formation potential (OFP) at the remote site. Ethene, toluene and m/p-xylene were the main contributors to the OFP at the three PRD sites.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8620-8632
Number of pages13
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007


  • LPG
  • Non-methane hydrocarbons
  • PRD
  • Source signature
  • South China

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science
  • General Environmental Science
  • Pollution


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