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https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-141
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2020-141
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 01 Apr 2020

Submitted as: research article | 01 Apr 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Size-resolved exposure risk of persistent free radicals (PFRs) in atmospheric aerosols and their potential sources

Qingcai Chen1, Haoyao Sun1, Wenhuai Song2, Fang Cao2, Chongguo Tian3, and Yan-Lin Zhang2 Qingcai Chen et al.
  • 1School of Environmental Science and Engineering, Shaanxi University of Science and Technology, Xi’an 710021, China
  • 2Yale–NUIST Center on Atmospheric Environment, International Joint Laboratory on Climate and Environment Change (ILCEC), Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China
  • 3Key Laboratory of Coastal Environmental Processes and Ecological Remediation, Yantai Institute of Coastal Zone Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yantai, 264003, China

Abstract. Environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs) are a new type of substance with potential health risks. EPFRs are widely present in atmospheric particulates, but there is a limited understanding of the size-resolved health risks of these radicals. This study first reported the exposure risks and source of EPFRs in atmospheric particulate matter (PM) of different particle sizes (< 10 μm) in Linfen, a typical coal-burning city in China. The type of EPFRs in fine particles (< 2.1 μm) is different from that in coarse particles (2.1–10 μm) in both winter and summer. However, the EPFR concentration is higher in coarse particles than in fine particles in summer, and the opposite trend is found in winter. In both seasons, combustion sources are the main sources of EPFRs with coal combustion as the major contributor in winter, while biomass combustion is the major source in summer. Dust contributes part of the EPFRs and it is mainly present in coarse particles in winter and the opposite in summer. The upper respiratory tract was found to be the area with the highest risk of exposure to EPFRs of the studied aerosols, with an exposure equivalent to that of approximately 21 cigarettes per person per day. Alveolar exposure to EPFRs is equivalent to 8 cigarettes per person per day, with combustion sources contributing the most to EPFRs in the alveoli. This study helps us to better understand the potential health risks of atmospheric PM with different particle sizes.

Qingcai Chen et al.

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Latest update: 27 May 2020
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Short summary
This study found environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs) are widely present in atmospheric particles of different particle sizes and exhibit significant particle size distribution characteristics. EPFR concentrations are higher in coarse particles than in fine particles in summer and vice versa in winter. The potential toxicity caused by EPFRs may also vary with particle size and season. Combustion is the most important source of EPFRs (> 70 %).
This study found environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs) are widely present in...
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