Evaluation of organic carbon, elemental carbon, and water soluble organic carbon concentration in PM2.5 in the ambient air of Sina Hospital district, Tehran, Iran

Document Type: Original Article


1 Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Public Health, Bushehr University of Medical Sciences, Bushehr AND Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Public Health, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Institutes of Water and Energy, Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran

4 Research Center for Environmental Health Technology AND Department of Environmental Health Engineering, School of Public Health, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


In the present study, carbon species including organic carbon (OC), elemental carbon (EC), and water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC) concentration in PM2.5 were assessed at an urban site of Tehran, Iran during March to June 2014. The PM2.5 samples were collected using an frmOMNITM Ambient Air Sampler. Thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA) was used to analyze OC and EC. The results showed that PM2.5 concentrations varied from 14.32 to 74.45 µg/m3 with an average value of 41.39 µg/m3. The results also showed that carbon species varied from 5.52 to 23.21 (15.35 ± 6.05) µg/m3 for OC and 1.03 to 4.16 (2.25 ± 0.65) µg/m3 for EC. As the findings indicated, the mean PM2.5 level in the sampling area was higher than the annual average determined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as the ambient air quality standard. On average, carbon species (OC, EC, and WSOC) account for almost 60% of PM2.5 mass in the atmospheric outflow from a downwind site. OC and EC concentrations in atmospheric PM2.5 collected at the sampling site were lower than the values reported for other urban areas with high or medium vehicular traffic and/or industrial sources. Moreover, the results obtained in this research can provide a valuable data base for health risk evaluation of the local residents and prioritization of control actions.


1. Li X, Wang S, Duan L, Hao J, Nie Y. Carbonaceous aerosol emissions from household biofuel combustion in China. Environ Sci Technol 2009; 43(15): 6076-81.
2. Ram K, Sarin MM, Sudheer AK, Rengarajan R. Carbonaceous and secondary inorganic aerosols during wintertime fog and haze over urban sites in the indo-gangetic plain. Journal of Aerosol and Air Quality Research 2012; 12(3): 359-70.
3. Sharma SK, Rohtash MK, Saraswati NCG, Saxena M, Mandal TK. Characteristics of ambient ammonia over Delhi, India. Meteorol Atmos Phys 2014; 124(1): 67-82.
4. Anenberg SC, Balakrishnan K, Jetter J, Masera O, Mehta S, Moss J, et al. Cleaner cooking solutions to achieve health, climate, and economic cobenefits. Environ Sci Technol 2013; 47(9): 3944-52.
5. Stanek LW, Sacks JD, Dutton SJ, Dubois JJB. Attributing health effects to apportioned components and sources of particulate matter: An evaluation of collective results. Atmospheric Environment 2011; 45(32): 5655-63.
6. Kelly FJ, Fussell JC. Size, source and chemical composition as determinants of toxicity attributable to ambient particulate matter. Atmospheric Environment 2012; 60: 504-26.
7. de Kok TM, Driece HA, Hogervorst JG, Briede JJ. Toxicological assessment of ambient and traffic-related particulate matter: a review of recent studies. Mutat Res 2006; 613(2-3): 103-22.
8. Jedynska A, Hoek G, Eeftens M, Cyrys J, Keuken M, Ampe C, et al. Spatial variations of PAH, hopanes/steranes and EC/OC concentrations within and between European study areas. Atmospheric Environment 2014; 87: 239-48.
9. Sharma M, Kishore S, Tripathi S, Behera SN. Role of atmospheric ammonia in the formation of inorganic secondary particulate matter: A study at Kanpur, India. Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry 2007; 58(1): 1-17.
10. Sharma SK, Mandal TK, Saxena M, Sharma A, Datta A, Saud T. Variation of OC, EC, WSIC and trace metals of PM10 in Delhi, India. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 2014; 113: 10-22.
11. Sharma SK, Mandal TK, Saxena M, Rohtash R, Sharma A, Gautam R. Source apportionment of PM10 by using positive matrix factorization at an urban site of Delhi, India. Urban Climate 2014; 10(Part 4,): 656-70.
12. Goldstein AH, Galbally IE. Known and unexplored organic constituents in the earth's atmosphere. Environ Sci Technol 2007; 41(5): 1514-21.
13. Penner JE, Novakov T. Carbonaceous particles in the atmosphere: A historical perspective to the Fifth International Conference on Carbonaceous Particles in the Atmosphere. J Geophys Res 1996; 101(D14): 19373-8.
14. Cyrys J, Heinrich J, Hoek G, Meliefste K, Lewne M, Gehring U, et al. Comparison between different traffic-related particle indicators: elemental carbon (EC), PM2.5 mass, and absorbance. J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol 2003; 13(2): 134-43.
15. Schaap M, van der Gon D. On the variability of Black Smoke and carbonaceous aerosols in the Netherlands. Atmospheric Environment 2007; 41(28): 5908-20.
16. Keuken MP, Jonkers S, Zandveld P, Voogt M, van den Elshout S. Elemental carbon as an indicator for evaluating the impact of traffic measures on air quality and health. Atmospheric Environment 2012; 61: 1-8.
17. Lewandowski M, Jaoui M, Kleindienst TE, Offenberg JH, Edney EO. Composition of PM2.5 during the summer of 2003 in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Atmospheric Environment 2007; 41(19): 4073-83.
18. Yang H, Yu JZ, Ho SSH, Xu J, Wu WS, Wan CH, et al. The chemical composition of inorganic and carbonaceous materials in PM2.5 in Nanjing, China. Atmospheric Environment 2005; 39(20): 3735-49.
19. Pathak RK, Wang T, Ho KF, Lee SC. Characteristics of summertime PM2.5 organic and elemental carbon in four major Chinese cities: Implications of high acidity for water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC). Atmospheric
Environment 2011; 45(2): 318-25.
20. Jacob DJ. Heterogeneous chemistry and tropospheric ozone. Atmospheric Environment 2000; 34(12-14): 2131-59.
21. Kanakidou M, Seinfeld JH, Pandis SN, Barnes I, Dentener FJD, Facchini MC, et al. Organic aerosol and global climate modelling: a review. Atmos Chem Phys 2005; 5: 1053-123.
22. Fuzzi S, Andreae MO, Huebert BJ, Kulmala M, Bond TC, Boy M, et al. Critical assessment of the current state of scientific knowledge, terminology, and research needs concerning the role of organic aerosols in the atmosphere, climate, and global change. Atmos Chem Phys 2006; 6: 2017-38.
23. Cooke WF, Cachier LH, Feichter J. Construction of a 1 × 1 fossil fuel emission data set for carbonaceous aerosol and implementation and radiative impact in the ECHAM4 model. J Geophys Res 1999; 104(D18): 22137-62.
24. Masiello CA. New directions in black carbon organic geochemistry. Marine Chemistry 2004; 92(1-4): 201-13.
25. Dachs J, Eisenreich SJ. Adsorption onto aerosol soot carbon dominates gas-particle partitioning of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Environ Sci Technol 2000; 34(17): 3690-7.
26. Sharma SK, Singh AK, Saud T, Mandal TK, Saxena M, Singh S, et al. Study on water-soluble ionic composition of PM10 and related trace gases over Bay of Bengal during W_ICARB campaign. Meteorol Atmos Phys 2012; 118(1): 37-51.
27. Chow JC, Watson JG, Chen LW, Arnott WP, Moosmuller H, Fung K. Equivalence of elemental carbon by thermal/optical reflectance and transmittance with different temperature protocols. Environ Sci Technol 2004; 38(16): 4414-22.
28. Ram K, Sarin MM, Tripathi SN. A 1 year record of carbonaceous aerosols from an urban site in the Indo-Gangetic Plain: Characterization, sources, and temporal variability. J Geophys Res 2010; 115: D24313.
29. Rengarajan R, Sarin MM, Sudheer AK. Carbonaceous and inorganic species in atmospheric aerosols during wintertime over urban and high-altitude sites in North India. J Geophys Res 2007; 112: D21307.
30. United States Environmental Protection Agency. Air quality planning and standards [Online]. [cited 1997]; Available from: URL:
31. Chaloulakou A, Kassomenos P, Spyrellis N, Demokritou P, Koutrakis P. Measurements of PM10 and PM2.5 particle concentrations in Athens, Greece. Atmospheric Environment 2003; 37(5): 649-60.
32. Koçak M, Mihalopoulos N, Kubilay N. Chemical composition of the fine and coarse fraction of aerosols in the northeastern Mediterranean. Atmospheric Environment 2007; 41(34): 7351-68.
33. Glavas SD, Nikolakis P, Ambatzoglou D, Mihalopoulos N. Factors affecting the seasonal variation of mass and ionic composition of PM2.5 at a central Mediterranean coastal site. Atmospheric Environment 2008; 42(21): 5365-73.
34. Leili M, Naddafi K, Nabizadeh R, Yunesian M, .Mesdaghinia A. The study of TSP and PM10 concentration and their heavy metal content in central area of Tehran, Iran. Air Qual Atmos Health 2008; 1(3): 159-66.
35. Srinivas B, Sarin MM. PM2.5, EC and OC in atmospheric outflow from the Indo-Gangetic Plain: Temporal variability and aerosol organic carbon-to-organic mass conversion factor. Science of The Total Environment 2014; 487: 196-205.
36. Zhang QH, Zhang J, .Xue HW. The challenge of improving visibility in Beijing. Atmos Chem Phys 2010; 10: 7821-7.
37. Fermo P, Piazzalunga A, Vecchi R, Valli G, Ceriani M. A TGA/FT-IR study for OC and EC quantification applied to carbonaceous aerosol collected in Milan (Italy). Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions 2005; 5(4): 4335-71.
38. Perrino C, Tiwari S, Catrambone M, Torre SD,
Rantica E, Canepari S. Chemical characterization of atmospheric PM in Delhi, India, during different periods of the year including Diwali festival. Atmospheric Pollution Research 2011; 2(4): 418-27.
39. Tarek Mohamed N, Yuji Y, Kazuhiko S, Qingyue W, Kazuhiko S. Chemical Composition of PM2.5 and PM10 and Associated Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons at a Roadside and an Urban Background Area in Saitama, Japan. Asian journal of atmospheric environment 2008; 2(2): 90-101.
40. Gupta AK, Karar K, Srivastava A. Chemical mass balance source apportionment of PM10 and TSP in residential and industrial sites of an urban region of Kolkata, India. Journal of Hazardous Materials 2007; 142(1-2): 279-87.
41. Park SS, Bae MS, Schauer JJ, Ryu SY, Kim YJ, Cho SY, et al. Evaluation of the TMO and TOT methods for OC and EC measurements and their characteristics in PM2.5 at an urban site of Korea during ACE-Asia. Atmospheric Environment 2005; 39(28): 5101-12.
42. Ram K, Sarin MM. Day–night variability of EC, OC, WSOC and inorganic ions in urban environment of Indo-Gangetic Plain: Implications to secondary aerosol formation. Atmospheric Environment 2011; 45(2): 460-8.