Spatial distribution and seasonal variations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) using semi-permeable membrane devices (SPMD) and pine needles in the Pearl River Delta, South China

Guoqing Liu, Gan Zhang, Jun Li, Xiangdong Li, Xianzhi Peng, Shihua Qi

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Semi-permeable membrane devices (SPMDs) were deployed at 12 sites in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) during 2001-2002 to elucidate the spatial distribution and seasonal variations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the subtropical region. Pine needles from the same sites were also analyzed for PAHs for a comparison with SPMDs. In Guangzhou, high volume active air sampling (HiVol) was carried out weekly through out the year-round sampling campaign. The PAHs sequestered in SPMDs (in ng SPMD-1day-1) were found to be higher in winter than in summer. Using the HiVol data, SPMD sampling rates were calculated seasonally for some dominant gas-phase PAH compounds (Fluorene to Pyrene). These sampling rates ranged from 0.7 to 2.8 m3day-1, which were used to determine the atmospheric PAH concentrations at other sites. The calculated PAH concentrations, based on different temperature-dependant SPMD sampling rates, in the air were higher in summer than in winter. The PAH compounds sampled with SPMDs and pine needle were mainly associated with gaseous PAHs, while pine needles accumulated more high molecular weight (HW) PAHs. Good agreements were found in the spatial distribution of atmospheric PAHs measured by SPMDs and pine needles. The potential of using SPMDs for seasonal monitoring of atmospheric organic pollutants at a regional scale was demonstrated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3134-3143
Number of pages10
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2006


  • Passive air sampling
  • Pearl River Delta
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  • Seasonal variations
  • Semi-permeable membrane device (SPMD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

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