Regional and local contributions to ambient non-methane volatile organic compounds at a polluted rural/coastal site in Pearl River Delta, China

Hai Guo, Tao Wang, D. R. Blake, I. J. Simpson, Y. H. Kwok, Yok Sheung Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

140 Citations (Scopus)


Identification of major sources of airborne pollutants and their contribution to pollutant loadings are critical in developing effective pollution control and mitigation strategies. In this study, a comprehensive dataset of non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOCs) collected from August 2001 to December 2002 at a polluted rural/coastal site in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) is analyzed to assess the relative contributions of major pollution sources to ambient NMVOC mixing ratios. A unique approach based on emission ratios of individual chemical species was used to classify the bulk air samples in order to apportion regional and local source contributions to the measured mixing ratios. The collected air samples fell into four major groups, including air masses from the inner PRD region and Hong Kong (HK) urban area. To estimate the source apportionment of NMVOCs, a principal component analysis/absolute principal component scores receptor model was applied to the classified data points. The results indicate that the regional and local source contributions to ambient NMVOC levels at the site were significantly different due to the differences in local versus regional energy use and industrial activities. For air masses originating from HK, vehicular emissions accounted for approximately 39% of the total NMVOC levels, followed by industrial emissions (35%), gasoline evaporation (14%) and commercial/domestic liquefied petroleum gas/natural gas use (12%). By contrast, for air masses originating from the PRD the industrial emissions accounted for 43% of the total NMVOC burden, followed by vehicular emissions (32%) and biomass burning (25%). In particular, the higher regional contribution of biomass burning found in this study as compared to existing emission inventories suggests that further efforts are necessary to refine the emission inventories of NMVOCs in the PRD region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2345-2359
Number of pages15
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2006


  • Hong Kong
  • Non-methane volatile organic compounds
  • Pearl River Delta
  • Source apportionment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


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