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Open Access Seasonal Influence on Vapor-and Particle-Phase Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Concentrations in School Communities Located in Southern California

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Ambient concentrations of 15 vapor-and particle-phase (PM2.5) polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), listed by the US EPA as priority pollutants, were measured between July 2002 and November 2003 in six Southern California communities participating in a multi-year chronic respiratory health study of schoolchildren. The communities were geographically distributed over two hundred kilometers, extending from Long Beach in coastal Los Angeles, to high mountain areas to the north and west of the Los Angeles basin, and south into Eastern San Diego County. Seasonal and spatial variation in the atmospheric concentrations of PAHs is of interest because this class of compounds includes potent mutagens, carcinogens, and species capable of generating reactive oxygen species (ROS) that may lead to oxidative stress. Naphthalene accounted for 95% of the total PAH mass; annual averages ranged from 89 to 142 ng m- 3. Benzo[ghi]perylene (BGP) and the pro-carcinogen benzo[a]pyrene (BAP), present almost exclusively in the particle-phase, ranged respectively from 38 to 231 pg m-3 and 75 and 111 pg m- 3, with the highest values observed in Long Beach, a community with a high volume of seaport-related activities, and Lancaster, a commuter dormitory community. A considerable increase in the particle-phase PAH concentration, relative to the vapor-phase, was observed as ambient temperature decreased. Cold/hot season ratios for PAHs in PM2.5 averaged 5.7, reaching 54 at Long Beach. The presented data underscore the importance of seasonal variations on atmospheric PAH concentrations. These observations are relevant to future interpretation and analysis of community-scale human health effects research.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Southern California Particle Center and Supersite, Institute of the Environment, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA 2: Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC, Los Angeles, California, USA

Publication date: 01 April 2007

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