Forging sustainability

PAHLIS- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons contamination in Lisbon urban atmosphere
Coordinator - César Oliveira
Programme - PTDC
Execution dates - 2007-10-01 - 2010-09-30 (36 Months)
Funding Entity - FCT
Funding for CESAM - 131717 €
Total Funding - 197255 €
Proponent Institution - Universidade de Aveiro
Participating Institutions
Universidade de Lisboa
Universidade Atlântica

Traffic-related air pollution is a rising problem in densely populated areas with implications in human health and material damages in structures. In fact, there are tremendous consequences related with degradation of life quality due to health problems caused by atmospheric pollutants. Generally in urban areas humans are exposed to high concentrations of atmospheric contaminants, for what is imperative the improvement of air quality standards. Airborne pollutant limit values are frequently exceeded, making urgent the existence of consistent programs to monitor and help taking measures to control them. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a well known class of atmospheric pollutants that occur distributed between particulate matter and gas phase. Although they could be formed during incomplete combustion and pyrolysis of coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage or other organic matter such as tobacco and charbroiled meat, their major source in urban areas are vehicular emissions. Human exposure to PAHs may cause harmful health effects like respiratory diseases or lung cancer, for instance. Besides the organic content of aerosols, their inorganic composition plays also an important role on their human health effects, as some toxicological studies have frequently implicated aerosol metal content, particularly his water soluble fraction as having potentially toxic and proinflammatory effects. Additionally, the knowledge of aerosol inorganic composition and particularly his metal content will complement data from their organic analysis and will help the identification of the natural and anthropogenic changing contribution sources and dissemination processes to their total loading. Within this project, a coherent aerosol and vapour phase sampling program will be implemented in the city of Lisbon, on conveniently selected contrasting zones namely a typically busy area with intense road traffic and a residential area of more quiet and clean environment, acting as an urban background site. Sampling locations will be chosen to assess for traffic contributions on atmospheric pollution, with special emphasis on their PAH and metal content. Vapour phase and particulate matter fractions will be analyzed by GC/MS (Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry) regarding their organic content. Also thermal-optical method will be applied to quantify black or elemental and organic carbon (BC/OC) of aerosol fractions. Additionally, the inorganic content of particulate matter will be studied both by cationic and anionic chromatography to monitor their water soluble composition and by AAS (Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy) and ICP/MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry) considering their metal content. Datasets produced on the chemical composition of airborne pollutants will be complemented with meteorological and other relevant data and used for source apportionment studies. Results of this project will help to cover a lack of reliable information regarding atmospheric sources and behaviour of PAHs in Portugal and will assist Portuguese Authorities to take measures to reduce atmospheric pollution and assure the fulfilment of the international agreements regarding maximum air pollution levels.

Members on this project
Casimiro Pio


CESAM Funding: