While phthalates in indoor environments are extensively studied, reports on phthalates in outdoor air, particularly their associations with haze weather events are rare. Phthalates, especially dimethyl phthalate, are known to react with criteria air pollutants contributing to the formation of secondary organic aerosols. This study investigated phthalates levels in the atmosphere in Shanghai with a focus on their associations with different air quality weather events. The air quality during the study period was classified into three levels: non-haze, light pollution and moderate pollution. Phthalates levels were found to be lower in non-haze weather events (236 ng/m3) and higher in moderate pollution weather events (up to 700 ng/m3). Meteorological factors of relative humidity and wind speed had an inverse relationship with phthalates levels. Particulate matter had a positive correlation with phthalates levels. Hydroxyl radical initiated photo-reaction of dimethyl phthalate was evident by its inverse relationship with total atmospheric oxidant (O3 + NO2), indicating that dimethyl phthalate could be one of the precursors of secondary organic aerosol causing haze weather events. Daily intake of phthalates through exposure to outdoor air is estimated to be relatively minor; children intake remains higher on a body weight basis. This is the first study demonstrating the relationship of phthalates and different air quality conditions in haze weather events. The knowledge contributes to our understanding on the cause of haze weather events in China and elsewhere.
Atmospheric Environment – Elsevier
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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