Environmental aging of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on soot and its effect on source identification

Daekyun Kim, Benjamin M. Kumfer, Cort Anastasio, Ian M. Kennedy, Thomas M. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Soot-associated PAHs were exposed to simulated sunlight to investigate disappearance rates under environmental aging conditions and to examine the robustness of diagnostic ratios for PAH source apportionment. Naphthalene, acenaphthylene, acenaphthene, and fluorene showed an obvious two-phase disappearance in all experiments while phenanthrene and anthracene exhibited this behavior for all but the highest soot loading. The first phase loss is 5-40 times faster than the second phase loss and occurred within 3 h for naphthalene, acenaphthylene, acenaphthene, and fluorene and within 10 h for phenanthrene and anthracene. Two-phase disappearance was not observed for any of the higher molecular weight PAHs with 4-6 rings. Each PAH has a unique loss rate via photodegradation and volatilization and these rates of some PAHs were affected by soot loadings; phenanthrene and anthracene showed similar rates in the first phase and increased loss rates in the second phase as soot loading increased. In the absence of light, the loss of PAHs was related to both temperature and molecular characteristics. Due to differences in disappearance rates of individual PAHs under illumination over extended times, prolonged exposure to sunlight could change the interpretation of some diagnostic ratios used previously for PAH source identification. This result indicates that more consistent and accurate methods that take into consideration the longevity of particulate PAHs are needed for reliable source apportionment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1075-1081
Number of pages7
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Environmental aging
  • PAH
  • Soot
  • Source apportionment
  • Two-phase degradation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental aging of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on soot and its effect on source identification'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this