Among the nitrated and oxygenated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (NPAHs and OPAHs) are some of the most hazardous substances to public health, mainly because of their carcinogenicity and oxidative potential. Despite these concerns, the concentrations and fate of NPAHs and OPAHs in the atmospheric environment are largely unknown. Ambient air concentrations of 18 NPAHs, 5 quinones, and 5 other OPAHs were determined at two urban and one regional background sites in central Europe. At one of the urban sites, the total (gas and particulate) concentrations of ς10OPAHs were 10.0 ± 9.2 ng/m3 in winter and 3.5 ± 1.6 ng/m3 in summer. The gradient to the regional background site exceeded 1 order of magnitude. ς18NPAH concentrations were typically 1 order of magnitude lower than OPAHs. Among OPAHs, 9-fluorenone and (9,10)-anthraquinone were the most abundant species, accompanied by benzanthrone in winter. (9,10)-Anthraquinone represented two-thirds of quinones. We found that a large fraction of the target substance particulate mass was carried by submicrometer particles. The derived inhalation bioaccessibility in the PM10 size fraction is found to be ≈5% of the total ambient concentration of OPAHs and up to ≈2% for NPAHs. For 9-fluorenone and (9,10)-anthraquinone, up to 86 and 18%, respectively, were found at the rural site. Our results indicate that water solubility could function as a limiting factor for bioaccessibility of inhaled particulate NPAHs and OPAHs, without considerable effect of surfactant lipids and proteins in the lung lining fluid.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry