1State Joint Key Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Peking University, Beijing, China
2Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Earth System Modeling, Center for Earth System Science, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
3Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center, Beijing, China
*now at: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
Abstract. Understanding the sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is essential for ground-level ozone and secondary organic aerosols (SOA) abatement measures. We made measurements at 28 sites and online observations at an urban site in Beijing from July 2009 to January 2012. From these we determined the spatial and temporal distributions of VOCs, estimated their annual emission strengths based on their emission ratios relative to CO, and quantified the relative contributions of various sources using the chemical mass balance (CMB) model. The results from ambient measurements were compared with existing emission inventories to evaluate the spatial distribution, species-specific emissions, and source structure of VOCs. The measured VOC distributions revealed a hotspot in the southern suburban area of Beijing, whereas current emission inventories suggested that VOC emissions were concentrated in downtown areas. Compared with results derived from ambient measurements, the annual inventoried emissions of oxygenated VOC (OVOC) species and C2–C4 alkanes might be underestimated, while the emissions of styrene and 1,3-butadiene might be overestimated by current inventories. Source apportionment using the CMB model identified vehicular exhaust as the most important VOC source, contributing 46%, in good agreement with the 40–51% assumed by emission inventories. However, the relative contribution of solvent and paint usage obtained from the CMB model was only 5%, significantly lower than the values reported by emission inventories (14–32%). Meanwhile, the relative contribution of industrial processes calculated using the CMB model was 17%, slightly higher than that in emission inventories. These results suggested that VOCs emission strengths in southern suburban area of Beijing, annual emissions of alkenes and OVOCs, and the contributions of solvent and paint usage and industrial processes in current inventories, all require significant revision.