Measurement report: Seasonality, distribution and sources of organophosphate esters in PM 2.5 from an inland urban city in Southwest China

Yin, Hongling; Liang, Jinfeng; Wu, Di; Li, Shiping; Luo, Yi; Deng, Xu

Organophosphate esters (OPEs) are contaminants of emerging concern, and studies have concluded that urban areas are a significant source of OPEs. Samples were collected from six ground-based sites located in Chengdu, a typical rapidly developing metropolitan area in Southwest China, and were analyzed for seven OPEs in atmospheric PMinline-formula2.5 (inline-formulaΣ7 OPEs). The concentrations of inline-formulaΣ7 OPEs in PMinline-formula2.5 ranged from 5.83 to 6.91 ng minline-formula−3, with a mean of 6.6 inline-formula± 3.3 ng minline-formula−3, and the primary pollutants were tris-(2-butoxyethyl) phosphate (TBEP), tri-n-butyl phosphate (TnBP), tris-(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) and tris-(2-chloroisopropyl) phosphate (TCPP), which together made up more than 80 % of the inline-formulaΣ7 OPEs. The concentrations of inline-formulaΣ7 OPEs were higher in autumn and winter than in summer. Nonparametric tests showed that there was no significant difference in inline-formulaΣ7 OPE concentrations among the six sampling sites, but the occurrence of unexpectedly high levels of individual OPEs at different sites in autumn might indicate noteworthy emissions. A very strong correlation (inline-formulaR2inline-formula= 0.98, inline-formulapinline-formula< 0.01) between the OPEs in soil and in PMinline-formula2.5 was observed. Backward trajectory analysis indicated that the OPEs in PMinline-formula2.5 were mainly affected by local sources. Principal component analysis (PCA) revealed that the OPEs in PMinline-formula2.5 were largely sourced from the plastics industry, interior decoration and traffic emission (34.5 %) and the chemical, mechanical and electrical industries (27.8 %), while the positive matrix factorization (PMF) model revealed that the main sources were the plastics industry and indoor source emissions, the food and cosmetics industry and industrial emissions. In contrast to coastal cities, sustained and stable high local emissions in the studied inland city were identified, which is particularly noteworthy. Chlorinated phosphates, especially TCPP and TCEP, had a high content, and their usage and source emissions should be controlled.

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Yin, Hongling / Liang, Jinfeng / Wu, Di / et al: Measurement report: Seasonality, distribution and sources of organophosphate esters in PM2.5 from an inland urban city in Southwest China. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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