09 Mar 2023
 | 09 Mar 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

Measurement report: Source apportionment and environmental impacts of VOCs in Lhasa, a highland city in China

Chunxiang Ye, Shuzheng Guo, Weili Lin, Fangjie Tian, Jianshu Wang, Chong Zhang, Suzhen Chi, Yi Chen, Yingjie Zhang, Limin Zeng, Xin Li, Duo Bu, Jiacheng Zhou, and Weixiong Zhao

Abstract. Hypoxia and adverse health outcomes might be complexed with O3 pollution in the highland city of Lhasa. NOx emissions can amplify the role of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the secondary production of O3 under the conditions of high ultraviolet (UV) radiation levels and unfavourable dispersion patterns in the Lhasa River valley. Here, online C2-C11 VOC measurements, accompanied by other parameters concerning the O3 chemical budget, were first obtained and employed to identify the key VOC species and key sources of VOCs in terms of the loss rate against OH radicals (LOH), ozone formation potential (OFP), secondary organic aerosol potential (SOAP) and toxicity. Oxygenated VOCs (OVOCs) were not only the most abundant VOCs but also dominated LOH, OFP and toxicity. Isoprene and anthropogenic VOCs were further identified as precursors of these OVOCs. Aromatics accounted for 5 % of the total VOCs (TVOCs) but contributed 88 % to the SOAP and 10 % to the toxicity. As the primary oxidative intermediates of aromatics were not well characterized by our measurements, the environmental impact of aromatics could be underestimated by our data. Source appointment and ternary analysis of benzene, toluene, and ethylbenzene confirmed the combined contribution of traffic emissions, solvent usage and biomass burning. This suggests that O3 precursors are mainly from residents’ life associated sources, except for solvent usage emissions which contribute to aromatic. Preliminary comparisons between source spectrums of transport sector emissions with PMF decomposed ones and our measured ones suggest that vehicle emission patterns of VOCs at high altitude generally follows the ground-level impression. More quantitative data is required to further confirm this point though. Emission reduction strategy analysis for O3 pollution control highlighted multiple benefits of the simultaneous reduction in NOx originating from diesel vehicle emissions and biomass burning and background sources (possibly dominated by incense burning). The notable biogenic emission contribution to the OFP was also first confirmed in our study, and this highlights the side effects of the government’s pursuit of a greener city.

Chunxiang Ye et al.

Status: open (until 22 Apr 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Chunxiang Ye et al.

Data sets

Meteorological, O3, NOx, CO, BC and VOCs data from May to June 2021 in Lhasa (Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences) C. Ye

Chunxiang Ye et al.


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Short summary
Online VOC measurements by GCMS, accompanied by other O3 precursors, were employed to identify key VOC and key sources in Lhasa. TVOCs (18.70 ± 8.35 ppb) and major anthropogenic alkanes and aromatics are half abundant relative to Beijing. OVOCs consist of 52 % of the TVOCs. Alkenes and OVOCs account fo over 80 % of the OFP. Aromatics dominate SOAP. PMF decomposed six residents' life associated sources.