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VOCs and OVOCs distribution and control policy implications in Pearl River Delta region, China


Ambient air measurements of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and oxygenated volatile organic compounds (OVOCs) were conducted and characterised during a two-year grid study in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) region of southern China. The present grid study pioneered the systematic investigation of the nature and characteristics of complex VOC and OVOC sources at a regional scale. The largest contributing VOCs, accounting over 80% of the total VOCs mixing ratio, were toluene, ethane, ethyne, propane, ethene, butane, benzene, pentane, ethylbenzene, and xylenes. Sub-regional VOC spatial characteristics were identified, namely: i) relatively fresh pollutants, consistent with elevated vehicular and industrial activities, around the PRD estuary; and ii) a concentration gradient with higher mixing ratios of VOCs in the west as compared with the eastern part of PRD. Based on alkyl nitrate aging determination, a high hydroxyl radical (OH) concentration favoured fast hydrocarbon reactions and formation of locally produced ozone. The photochemical reactivity analysis showed aromatic hydrocarbons and alkenes together consisted of around 80% of the ozone formation potential (OFP) among the key VOCs. We also found that the OFP from OVOCs should not be neglected since their OFP contribution was more than one-third of that from VOCs alone. These findings support the choice of current air pollution control policy which focuses on vehicular sources but warrants further controls. Industrial emissions and VOCs emitted by solvents should be the next targets for ground-level ozone abatement. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

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