Organic compound source profiles of PM2.5 from traffic emissions, coal combustion, industrial processes and dust

Yingze Tian, Xiao Liu, Ruiqing Huo, Zongbo Shi, Yueming Sun, Yinchang Feng, Roy M. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Eighteen polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), 24 n-alkanes, 7 hopanes, 2 cholestanes, inorganic ions, elements and carbon fractions were analyzed in real-world source samples of PM2.5 (fine particulate matter) from traffic emissions (gasoline vehicles-TGV, diesel vehicles-TDV, diesel ship-TDS, and heavy oil ships-THOS), coal combustion (coal-fired industrial boilers-CIB, power plants-CPP, and residential stoves-CRS), industrial process emissions (cement industry-IPCI, and steel industry-IPSI), and dust (soil dust-DSD, road dust-DRD, and construction dust-DCD). High molecular weight (sum of five to seven rings) PAHs accounted for higher fractions for TGV (80%) and THS (61%) than for TDV, TDS and coal combustion sources (31%–47%). Hopane ratios (C29αβ/C30αβ) in coal related sources were mostly higher than 1, whereas that of traffic emissions was lower than 1. The homohopane index [S/(S + R)], which is a useful index for identifying the maturity of fuels, ranked as TGV > THS > TDV and TDS > coal combustion. For n-alkane profiles, coal related sources showed peaks at C16–C19, TDV, TDS and THS showed similar peaks at C17–C25, but peaks for DSD (C30–C32), DRD (C17–C20, C24–25 and C30–C31), CRS (C16–C18 and C28–C29) and TGV (C24–C26) are different. Organic markers were selected which can best differentiate the subtypes within source categories by considering the component levels and variations. Through a comprehensive review, we showed that it is inadvisable to directly use diagnostic ratios for source attribution, although their trends can assist in identifying influential sources.
Original languageEnglish
Article number130429
Pages (from-to)130429
Early online date31 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China ( 41977181 ), Young Elite Scientists Sponsorship Program by Tianjin, China ( TJSQNTJ-2018-04 ), and China Scholarship Council, China ( 201906205033 ). ZS is supported by UK Natural Environment Research Council, United Kingdom ( NE/S00579X/1 ).


  • Coal combustion
  • Industrial processes
  • Organic compounds
  • PM
  • Source profiles
  • Traffic emissions
  • PM(2.5)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


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