Comparing polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in airborne particles in Guangzhou and Hong Kong: Sources, seasonal variations and inland outflow

Jun Li, Xiang Liu, Li Li Yu, Gan Zhang, Xiangdong Li, Celine S.L. Lee, Hai Tao Lin

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


The historical application/usage and management of chemicals in Hong Kong have been distinctively different from mainland China. In the present study, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were measured in year-round atmospheric particle samples collected from urban Hong Kong and Guangzhou for comparison. The concentrations of BDE-209 and Σ9PBDEs (defined as the sum of BDE-28, -47, -66, -100, -99, -154, -153, -138 and -183) in Guangzhou ranged from 758 to 21900 pg m-3 and from 31.8 to 3320 pg m-3, respectively, and in Hong Kong ranged from 8.5 to 895 pg m-3 and from 1.0 to 386 pg m-3, respectively. Elevated concentrations of PBDEs were observed in Guangzhou, showing significant atmospheric PBDE pollution. BDE-209, -47, and -99 were the dominant congeners in all the samples, suggesting that the widely used commercial penta- and deca-BDE products were the original sources. Distinct seasonal patterns were observed in the PBDE concentrations of aerosols in Hong Kong, higher during the winter monsoon period, and lower during summertime. The less distinct seasonal variations of PBDE concentrations in the aerosols of Guangzhou suggested the dominance of local pollution sources around the city. Significant correlations were found between BDE-209 and organic carbon (OC) or elemental carbon (EC) in the two cities, suggesting that combustion may be an important pathway introducing BDE-209 to the atmosphere. The lower BDE-209 concentrations along with higher OC/EC ratios implied that a quick loss of BDE-209 may occur during the aerosol aging processes. Back trajectory analysis showed that the high PBDE concentrations observed in Hong Kong may be related to the outflows from the inland area of the Pearl River Delta (PRD) by prevailing the northeast or northwest wind in winter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1185-1191
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Monitoring
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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