Atmospheric concentrations, gaseous-particulate distribution, and carcinogenic potential of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in Assiut, Egypt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


The concentrations of 15 priority PAHs were determined in the atmospheric gaseous and particulate phases from nine sites across Assiut City, Egypt. While naphthalene, acenaphthene, and fluorene were the most abundant in the gaseous phase with average concentrations of 377, 184, and 181 ng/m3, benzo[b]fluoranthene, chrysene, and benzo[g,h,i]perylene showed the highest levels in the particulate phase with average concentrations of 76, 6, and 52 ng/m3. The average total atmospheric concentration of target PAHs (1,590 ng/m3) indicates that Assiut is one of the highest PAH-contaminated areas in the world. Statistical analysis revealed a significant difference between the levels of PAHs in the atmosphere of urban and suburban sites (P = 0.029 and 0.043 for gaseous and particulate phases, respectively). Investigation of diagnostic PAH concentration ratios revealed vehicular combustion and traffic exhaust emissions as the major sources of PAHs with a higher contribution of gasoline rather than diesel vehicles in the sampled areas. Benzo[a]pyrene has the highest contribution (average = 32, 4 % for gaseous and particulate phases) to the total carcinogenic activity (TCA) of atmospheric PAHs. While particulate phase PAHs have higher contribution to the TCA, gaseous phase PAHs present at higher concentrations in the atmosphere are more capable of undergoing atmospheric reactions to form more toxic derivatives.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8059-8069
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Early online date26 Mar 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • PAHs, Atmosphere, Gaseous phase, Particulate phase, HPLC-FLD, Assiut, Total carcinogenic activity, Inhalational exposure