Volatile aromatic compounds in México City atmosphere: levels and source apportionment

MARÍA ESTHER RUÍZ , V. MUGICA, J. WATSON, J. CHOW

Abstract

Samples of ambient air were simultaneously collected at three different sites of Mexico City in March of 1997 in order to quantify the most abundant volatile aromatic compounds and estimate the source contributions by application of the chemical mass balance model (CMB). Volatile aromatic compounds were around 20 of the total of non-methane hydrocarbons present in morning air samples. The most abundant volatile aromatic species in urban air were toluene and xylenes followed by 1,2,4 trimethylbenzene benzene ethylbenzene, metaethyltoluene, 1,3,5 trimethylbenzene, styrene, npropylbenzene, and isopropylbenzane. Sampling campaigns were carried out at crossroads, a bus station, a parking place, and areas where solvents and petroleum distillates are used, with the objective of determining people's exposure to volatile aromatic compounds. The CMB was applied for estimating the contribution of different sources to the presence of each one of the most abundant aromatic compounds. Motor vehicle exhaust was the main source of all aromatic compounds, especially gasoline-exhaust, although diesel exhaust and asphalt operations also accounted for toluene, xylenes, ethylbenzene, propylbenzenes, and styrene. Graphic arts and paint application had an important impact on the presence of toluene.

Keywords

México; volatile organic compunds; benzene; CMB

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