Analysis and tracing of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and mutagenicity of airborne particulates from the Taipei area.

Y. H. Wei*, K. T. Chang, P. C. Chiang, S. C. Chang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

3 Scopus citations


In a 3-year study, we determined the mutagenicity and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) of airborne particulates collected during December 1987-September 1988 (216 samples), October 1988-January 1989 (81 samples), and October 1989-April 1990 (52 samples) from 9 locations in the Taipei area. We found that dichloromethane extracts of all the samples were mutagenic to Salmonella typhimurium in the Ames test. Moreover, the mutagenicity was much higher in the presence of rat liver microsomal fraction (S9 mixture) than that observed in its absence, which indicates that airborne particulates contained both direct and indirect mutagens. The average mutagenicity of the samples collected in the 3-year period was 137, 127, and 118 histidine revertants/10 m3 air, respectively. On the other hand, we found that dichloromethane extracts of each airborne particulate sample contained 14 PAHs with wide variations in concentration and relative distribution. The levels of Pha, Flu, Pyr, and Ben were much higher than the PAHs with higher ring numbers such as BaP, BeP, Pr, IP, and DbA. The average PAH content was 8.0, 5.0, and 7.8 ng/m3 air for airborne particulates collected during December 1986-September 1987, October 1988-January 1989, and October 1989-April 1990, respectively. Among the 9 stations, Fu Hsing Elementary School and Chung Hsing University (Taipei campus), which are, respectively, located in the downtown area and a heavy traffic zone, had significantly higher levels of mutagenicity and PAHs than did the other stations. Moreover, comparative analysis of PAH levels of airborne particulates over the 3-year period revealed an interesting season-dependent change of PAH content in airborne particulates from the Taipei area. The concentrations of individual and total PAHs were consistently lower in the summer than those in the winter. A similar pattern of seasonal change was also observed in the mutagenicity of airborne particulate samples examined. It is worth mentioning that neither PAH level nor mutagenicity of airborne particulates showed significant yearly change over the 3-year period of study. As part of an effort to identify pollution sources, we examined the mutagenicity and PAH compounds of air particulates collected from the burning of garbage (14 samples) and motor-vehicle exhaust in the Hsin Hai Tunnel (17 samples), Taipei. The results showed that garbage burning gave rise to air particulates containing several hundred times higher levels of PAHs and about 20 times stronger mutagenicity, while the motor-vehicle exhaust contained about ten times higher PAH content and mutagenicity as compared with those of airborne particulates of the Taipei city.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-62
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Science Council, Republic of China. Part B, Life sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 02 1991
Externally publishedYes


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