Molecular, seasonal and spatial distributions of organic aerosols from fourteen Chinese cities

Gehui Wang, Kimitaka Kawamura, Shuncheng Lee, Kinfai Ho, Junji Cao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

286 Citations (Scopus)


Organic aerosols were studied at the molecular level in 14 coastal and inland mega-cities in China during winter and summer 2003. They are characterized by the abundant presence of n-alkanes (annual average, 340 ng m-3), fatty acids (769 ng m-3), sugars (412 ng m-3), and phthalates (387 ng m-3). In contrast, fatty alcohols, polyols/polyacids, lignin and resin products, sterols, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and hopanes were detected as relatively minor components. n-Alkanes show a weak odd/even carbon predominance (CPI = 1.1) and PAHs show a predominance of benzo(b)fluoranthene, suggesting a serious contribution from fossil fuel (mainly coal) combustion. Their concentrations (except for phthalates and polyols/polyacids) were 2-15 times higher in winter than summer due to a significant usage of coal burning and an enhancement of atmospheric inversion layers. Phthalates were found to be more abundant in summer than winter, probably due to enhanced vaporization from plastics followed by adsorptive deposition on the pre-existing particles. Concentrations of total quantified compounds are extremely high (∼10 μg m-3) in the midwest (Chongqing and Xi'an) where active industrialization/urbanization is going on. This study shows that concentrations of the compounds detected are 1-3 orders of magnitude higher than those reported from developed countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4619-4625
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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