Stable carbon isotopes in aerosols from Chinese cities: Influence of fossil fuels

Jun ji Cao, Judith C. Chow, Jun Tao, Shuncheng Lee, John G. Watson, Kin fai Ho, Ge hui Wang, Chong shu Zhu, Yong ming Han

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

159 Citations (Scopus)


Stable carbon isotope ratios were determined for the OC and EC fractions of PM2.5collected from 14 Chinese cities in January and June/July of 2003. The period-averaged isotope values (δ13C) varied from -26.90‰ to -23.08‰ for OC and -26.63‰ to -23.27‰ for EC. A strong correlation (R2=0.70, p<0.0001) between δ13COCand δ13CECwas found in winter but not summer. Winter vs. summer differences for δ13COCand δ13CECwere greater for the seven northern cities (∼1 to 3‰) than the seven southern cities (<1‰). Comparisons with isotopic signatures of putative sources suggest that the carbonaceous PM2.5was mainly from fossil fuels, especially coal combustion and motor vehicle emissions; the northern cities in particular were strongly impacted by coal combustion during winter. Studies of stable carbon isotopes in OC and EC are potentially useful for identifying sources for carbonaceous PM2.5, and this approach may be a useful new tool for the study of air pollution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1359-1363
Number of pages5
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2011


  • Carbon isotope
  • China
  • Elemental carbon
  • Organic carbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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