Spatial and seasonal variations of atmospheric organic carbon and elemental carbon in Pearl River Delta Region, China

J. J. Cao, S. C. Lee, K. F. Ho, S. C. Zou, Kochy Fung, Y. Li, John G. Watson, Judith C. Chow

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

438 Citations (Scopus)


The concentrations of organic carbon (OC) and elemental carbon (EC) in atmospheric particles were investigated at eight sites in four cities (Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai) of the Pearl River Delta Region (PRDR), China, during winter and summer 2002. The comparison of summer and winter results was made in order to investigate spatial and seasonal variations. PM2.5and PM10samples were collected on pre-fired quartz filters with mini-volume samplers and analyzed by the thermal optical reflectance (TOR) method following the Interagency Monitoring of PROtected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) protocol. During summer, the average OC and EC concentrations in PM2.5were 9.2 and 4.1μgm-3, while those in PM10were 12.3 and 5.2μgm-3. Carbonaceous aerosol accounted for 38.0% of the PM2.5and 32.9% of the PM10. The daily average OC, EC, PM2.5and PM10concentrations in PRDR were higher in winter than in summer. The average OC/EC ratio was 2.5 for PM2.5and PM10, suggesting the presence of secondary organic aerosols. The estimated secondary organic carbons in PM2.5and PM10were 4.1 and 5.6μgm-3, respectively. The OC and EC were found to be correlated in winter (correlation coefficient r=0.82) and summer (r=0.64), which implied that motor vehicle sources contributed to the ambient carbonaceous particles. The distribution of eight carbon fractions in OC and EC at eight sites was first reported in ambient samples in Asia, which also indicated that motor vehicle exhaust was the dominant contributor to carbonaceous particles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4447-4456
Number of pages10
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2004


  • Elemental carbon
  • Organic carbon
  • Pearl River Delta Region
  • Urban aerosol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science


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