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Source apportionment and seasonal variation in particulate PAHs levels at a coastal site in Belgium

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In the present study, estimation of the atmospheric polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) was done in particulate samples collected from De Haan, Belgium, during different seasons. The sampling site was situated very close to the north sea and far from the influence of local or industrial activities. The levels of PAHs depicted a distinct seasonal trend, being highest during the spring season. The observations of the study indicated a mean value of 2.6 ng m−3 for concentration of all the 16 US EPA PAHs, thus being significantly lower when compared to results of previous studies focused on other sites. The dominating PAHs species reported were naphthalene, fluoranthene, benzo[a]anthracene, chrysene, and indeno[1,2,3c,d] pyrene. Assessment of the seasonal variation of the PAH levels was also done with respect to diagnostic ratio-based source identification, analysis of back trajectories, and principle component analysis. Burning of fossil fuels was observed to be the prominent source of atmospheric PAHs in the study area. Further, lifetime cancer risk assessment was performed to assess the detrimental health impacts on humans on being exposed to atmospheric PAHs. Particulate PAHs present in the ambient air of Belgium shows no carcinogenic health impacts. However, considering the industrial expansion in the region, efforts are required to prevent the environmental contamination of PAHs.

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Correspondence to Khaiwal Ravindra.

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1. De Haan has shown comparatively lower ambient levels of PAHs with annual average of 2.6 ng/m3.

2. Highest PAH levels were observed during spring season as the wind blows from the urban areas.

3. Vehicular emission and coal combustion were observed to be the prominent sources of the PAHs

4. Life time cancer risk assessment depicts no carcinogenic health impacts.

Responsible editor: Vedula VSS Sarma

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Ravindra, K., Dirtu, A.C., Mor, S. et al. Source apportionment and seasonal variation in particulate PAHs levels at a coastal site in Belgium. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020).

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  • PAHs
  • Seasonal variation
  • Source identification
  • Back trajectory analysis
  • Health risk assessment
  • Remote site
  • Belgium