Unravelling airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in southern China using tree-rings of 100-yr old Pinus Kwangtungensis
1Key Laboratory of Vegetation Restoration and Management of Degraded Ecosystems, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650, China
2Central South University of Forestry and Technology, Changsha 41004, China
3Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation, Sustainable Minerals Institute, University of Queensland, QLD 4072, Australia
Abstract. Reliable perennial biomonitoring of airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is urgently necessary to detect long-term impacts of anthropogenic emission, in response to industrial policies and combustion technology adoption. One hundred records of airborne PAHs were novelly demonstrated by analyzing the tree-rings of Kwangtung pine (Pinus kwangtungensis) formed from 1883 to 2007 at Naling Mountains of southern China. The total concentrations of PAHs (∑PAHs) detected in the tree xylem did not progressively increase against the time. Temporal increase of high molecular-weight PAHs (HMW-PAHs) coincided well to the historical-socioeconomic status in China, suggesting HMW-PAHs in old trees growing at high mountains were more indicative of regionally historical changes in airborne PAHs compared with ∑PAHs. Compositional analysis indicated airborne PAHs absorbed and accumulated in tree tissues were pyrogenic origination. Principal component analysis revealed PAHs inputs were quite historically diversiform and unevenly distributed in the atmosphere of Nanling Mountains of southern China. Dendroanalysis of old trees grown at geographically sink locations could be a useful biomonitoring technique for unravelling historical changes in PAHs composition and intensity in the atmosphere, in relation to regional industrial development and fuel consumptions.