Occurrence, sources and seasonal variation of PM2.5 carbonaceous aerosols in a water level fluctuation zone in the Three Gorges Reservoir, China

Periodic water impoundment and seasonal flood events result in a 30 m water level fluctuation zone (WLFZ) in the Three Gorges Reservoir Region (TGRR), China. In order to assess the occurrence, sources and seasonal variation of airborne carbonaceous pollutants, a total of thirty-nine PM2.5 samples, twenty-two from August 2017 (summer: low water level ~135m) and seventeen from January 2018 (winter: high water level ~175m) were collected consecutively at a rural site in WLFZ in the TGRR. The results showed that OC, EC, char, soot, 16 PAHs and n-alkanes were higher in winter (mean: 9.17 μg/m3, 4.69 μg/m3, 4.25 μg/m3, 0.45 μg/m3, 19.8 ng/m3 and 210 ng/m3, respectively) than in summer (mean: 6.55 μg/m3, 1.70 μg/m3, 1.37 μg/m3, 0.32 μg/m3, 6.13 ng/ m3 and 79.1 ng/m3, respectively). Compositional differences suggested air-soil/plant exchange as a source for 2- 3-rings PAHs in summer and biomass burning for 4-5-rings in winter. Diagnostic ratios and PCA suggested more vehicular emission for PAHs in summer. Plant waxes contributed 18.2% and 26.2% of the n-alkanes in summer and winter, respectively, implying a relatively greater contribution from petroleum residues. The specific ratios and relative abundance of hopanes and steranes indicated mixed sources from both vehicle exhaust and petroleum residue; and petroleum residues contribute more steranes in summer compared with winter. As revealing basic information on the formation mechanism of carbonaceous aerosols, this study could contribute to a further understanding of their environmental geochemical behavior in the WLFZ of TGRR.

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