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Evaluation of Car Air Filters’ Efficiency as Active Samplers for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Heavy Metals

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Volume: 14 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 431-439
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2013.03.0098
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Quan-Ying Cai1, Pei-Yun Xiao2, Huixiong Lü 2, Athanasios Katsoyiannis3, Jun-Jian Tian2, Qiao-Yun Zeng2, Ce-Hui Mo 1

  • 1 Key Laboratory of Water/Soil Toxic Pollutants Control and Bioremediation of Guangdong Higher Education Institutions, Department of Environmental Engineering, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, China
  • 2 Key Laboratory of Soil Environment and Waste Reuse in Agriculture of Guangdong Higher Education Institutions, Department of Environmental Science & Engineering, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, 510642, China
  • 3 NILU, Norwegian Institute for Air Research – FRAM, High North Research Centre for Climate and the Environment, NO-9296 Tromsø, Norway


In this study, an innovative and inexpensive approach, based on car engine air filters (CAFs) was used to monitor polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals (HMs). CAFs were collected from two Taxi garages in Guangzhou and analyzed for PAHs and heavy metals. The total concentrations of eight high molecular weight PAHs (ΣPAHs) ranged from 923 to 11378 µg/CAF. The average ΣPAHs concentration in winter was slightly higher than in summer, a seasonal signal that is observed in most studies. The most abundant individual PAH was chrysene, followed by benzo[a]anthracene, benzo[b]fluoranthene and benzo[k]fluoranthene. Concentrations of benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) varied between 8.22 and 632 µg/CAF. Based on estimated air volumes that pass through each CAF, atmospheric PAHs and heavy metals were estimated. ΣPAHs ranged from ~20 to ~200 ng/m3 for the average air volume estimate, being comparable to those reported previously using a high volume air sampler. BaP-equivalent carcinogenic potency were between 1 and 15.0 ng/m3 (again, for the average scenario). The average concentrations of heavy metals in CAFs decreased in order of Zn > Cu > Pb > Cd.


Car air filter Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons Heavy metals Benzo[a]pyrene-equivalent carcinogenic potency Particle-bound

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