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Personal inhalation exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in urban and rural residents in a typical northern city in China


  • The authors declare that they have no actual or potential competing financial interests.


Personal inhalation exposure samples were collected and analyzed for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) for 126 selected volunteers during heating and non-heating seasons in a typical northern Chinese city, Taiyuan. Measured personal PAH exposure levels for the urban residents in the heating and non-heating seasons were 690 (540–1051) and 404 (266–544) ng/m3, respectively, while, for the rural residents, they were 770 (504–1071) and 312 (201–412) ng/m3, respectively. Thus, rural residents are exposed to lower PAH contamination in comparison with the urban residents in the non-heating seasons. In the heating season, personal PAH inhalation exposure levels were comparable between the urban and rural residents, in part owing to the large rate of residential solid fuel consumption in the rural area for household cooking and heating. The estimated incremental lifetime cancer risks (ILCR) due to PAH exposure in Taiyuan were 3.36 × 10−5 and 2.39 × 10−5 for the rural and urban residents, respectively, significantly higher than the literature-reported national average level, suggesting an urgent need of PAH pollution control to protect human health.

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