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Increased Biomass Burning due to the Economic
Crisis in Greece and its Adverse Impact on Wintertime Air Quality in Thessaloniki
Constantinos Sioutas, Sc.D.
Fred Champion Professor of Environmental Engineering
University of Southern California (USC)
Los Angeles, CA, 90089
Web Site: www.usc.edu/aerosol
Full Manuscript of this study is available on-line: Saffari et al., ES&T, 2013
Overview:
• Motivation
• Methodology
• Results
•
•
•
•
•
•
• Conclusions
Particle Mass Concentration
Organic Carbon and Elemental Carbon
Trace Elements and Metals
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Organic Wood Smoke Tracers
Redox Activity and Reactive Oxygen
Species (ROS) measurement
Motivations:
Thessaloniki:
• 2nd largest city in Greece
• One of the most polluted cities within
the EU
Change of Residential Heating Method due
to the Economic Crisis:
• Increased fuel oil price (nearly tripling
from 2010 to 2013)
• Wood and Biomass burning for
residential heating instead of more
expensive fuel oil
Motivation:
Wood smoke
particles
Enriched with toxic and carcinogenic
organic compounds
(e.g. PAHs)
• Pulmonary diseases (Levi et al., 2006)
Adverse health
effects of exposure
to wood smoke
Study Objectives
• Increased blood pressure (McCracken et al.,
2007)
• Increased inflammatory biomarkers
(Barregard et al., 2006)
• The extent to which biomass burning has increased
within the last two years in Thessaloniki
• Impact of biomass on Particulate Matter (PM) chemical
composition and toxicity
Methodology:
• Size Range of interest: PM2.5
• Sampler: Low Volume Sampler
Sampling Protocol:
• Location: Municipality of Thessaloniki (Urban
background- Eptapyrgion)
• Period: Feb-Mar 2012 and Jan-Feb 2013
• Organic and Elemental Carbon (EC/OC)
Chemical and
Toxicological
Analyses:
•
•
•
•
Trace Elements and Metals (total and water soluble fraction)
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
Organic Biomass Tracers
Oxidative Potential (Macrophage cell-based ROS activity)
Results: Particle Mass Reconstruction
• 30% increase in total
PM2.5 in 2013
compared to 2012.
• 2-fold higher PM2.5 in
the evening compared
to morning (effect of
increased evening-time
residential heating)
• Remarkable increase of
Organic Matter in the
evening compared to
Morning as well as 2013
compared to 2012 (Next
Slide)
Results: Trace Elements and Metals
Morning2013
Evening2013
24-hr 2013
Aluminum
15.2±7.4
Sulfur
483±266
Potassium
232±58
Calcium
95.7±8.3
Titanium
0.9±1.3
Vanadium
1.4±0.2
Chromium
0.8±0.2
Iron
76.5±17.5
Nickel
0.9±0.2
Copper
7.0±1.9
Zinc
40.7±2.0
Cadmium
0.16±0.03
Antimony
0.53±0.22
Lead
10.0±3.8
Concentrations in ng/m3
52.0±4.2
735±326
652±302
127±9.7
4.7±3
0.8±0
1.3±0.8
114±44.2
1.5±0.8
13.8±9.8
53.7±44.5
0.36±0.11
0.64±0.32
11.8±8.6
43.7±15.4
576±110
459±55.6
171±22.9
3.2±1.1
1.8±0.2
0.6±0.1
83.6±11.7
1.2±0.2
3.7±0.8
19.3±3.3
0.2±0.02
0.52±0.06
6.37±0.83
Species
24-hr 2012
19.3±3
1327±140
234±33.7
168±27.4
0.7±0.1
2.3±0.7
1.1±0.1
70.5±11.7
1.9±0.5
3.8±0.8
25.4±8.7
0.23±0.04
0.91±0.29
7.48±1.99
~ 2-3-fold increase in
2013 compared to
2013 and evening
compared to morning
(increased wood
smoke)
~ 40% decrease in V and
Ni concentrations in
2013 compared to 2012
(decreased fuel oil
combustion)
Results: PAHs
Species
24-hr 2013
24-hr 2012
Phenanthrene
Anthracene
0.5 ± 0.6
0.02 ± 0.02
0.06 ± 0.02
0.02 ± 0.02
Fluoranthene
0.50 ± 0.5
0.10 ± 0.0
Pyrene
Benzo[a]anthracene
Chrysene
Benzo[e]pyrene
Benzo[b]fluoranthene
Benzo[k]fluoranthene
Benzo[a]pyrene
diBenzo[a,h]anthracene
Benzo[g,h,i]perylene
Indenol[1,2,3-c,d]pyrene
Σ13PAHs
0.74 ± 0.7
1.55 ± 1.5
1.93 ± 1.8
6.64 ± 6.6
2.43 ± 1.9
1.09 ± 0.8
2.09 ± 1.9
0.53 ± 0.3
3.20 ± 2.6
2.32 ± 1.8
23.4 ± 20.9
0.04 ± 0.0
0.1 ± 0.1
0.35 ± 0.3
1.33 ± 1.0
0.76 ± 0.5
0.12 ± 0.1
0.25 ± 0.3
0.03 ± 0.0
0.73 ± 0.4
0.78 ± 0.4
4.66 ± 3.5
• PAHs may originate from
both traffic sources as
well as wood and
biomass burning.
• ~10-fold increase in
2013
• 2013 level is almost 2
times above the EU
annual limit
Concentrations in ng/m3
• 5-fold increase in 2013 compared to
2012, driven by wood and biomass
combustion.
Results: Organic Markers of Biomass Burning
Redox-Activity of PM (Oxidative Potential) Measurement
Cellular Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) assay
• Rat Alveolar Macrophages (AM)
• ROS Assay measures the direct capability of PM to generate ROS inside
cells. We apply a known amount of PM mass on incubated macrophage
cells and measure production of fluorescence
• Strongly correlated with inflammatory biomarkers in humans
Rat Alveolar macrophage
DCFH
(fluoroscent)
(non-fluoroscent)
DCH
PM constituents
(2’7’-dichlorodihydrofluorescin)
DCFH-DA
(2’7’-dichlorodihydrofluorescin
diacetate)
DCFH
ROS
DCF
(2’7’-dichlorofluorescin)
Results: Redox Activity
Volume-normalized ROS activity
(Indicator of exposure to toxic PM)
 All of the ROS levels in this figure correspond to 2013.
Results: Redox Activity
Association of ROS activity and chemical species in 2013:
Species
R
p
Species
R
p
OC
0.50
0.03
Zn
0.70
0.03
EC
0.58
0.06
As
0.70
0.04
S
0.48
0.07
Mo
0.49
0.05
K
0.74
0.02
Cd
0.64
0.06
Ti
0.42
0.11
Sb
0.58
0.08
V
0.43
0.08
Ba
0.67
0.04
Cr
0.84
0.01
La
0.71
0.03
Mn
0.72
0.02
Pb
0.86
0.01
Fe
0.90
<0.01
PAHs
0.40
0.12
Co
0.34
0.09
Levoglucosan
0.72
0.04
Ni
0.16
0.23
Mannosan
0.65
0.07
Cu
0.16
0.17
Galactosan
0.75
0.04
 Underlined numbers indicate values with R>0.7 and p<0.05
Biomass burning
tracers are associated
with the ROS activity
PM0.25
PM2.5
PM10-2.5
Riverside
Beirut
Lahore
Los Angeles
Lahore
Thessaloniki
Milan
Beirut
Los Angeles
Riverside
Beirut
Long Beach
Los Angeles
ROS activity (µg Zymosan/ m3 air)
10000
Arithmetic Mean
1000
100
10
1
Size
Range
PM0.25
PM2.5
PM10-2.5
Fuel Oil
Combustion
Traffic Emissions
Study
Location
Fe
Saffri et al. 2013
Los Angeles,
USA
Saffari et al.
2013
Long Beach,
USA
Daher et al.
2014
Beirut, Lebanon
Saffari et al.
2013
Riverside, USA
Verma et al.
2009
Los Angeles,
USA
Daher et al.
2014
Beirut, Lebanon
Daher et al.
2012
Milan, Italy
Saffari et al.
2013
Thessaloniki,
Greece
Zhang et al.
2008
Denver, USA
Shafer et al.
2010
Lahore,
Pakistan§
Cheung et al.
2012
Los Angeles and
Riverside, USA
Daher et al.
2014
Beirut, Lebanon
Cu
Cr Pb Co Mn Zn As Pd Ce Ni La
*
V
S
Biomass
Burning
K
Levoglucos
an
Secondary
Organics
WSOC
*
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*
*
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*
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*
*
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*
*
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* * *
*
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* * *
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Conclusions:
• Significant increase in concentrations of total PM2.5 mass and organic
tracers of biomass combustion in 2013 compared to 2012 imply the
notable deterioration of Thessaloniki’s urban air quality during the period
of economic recession.
• Wintertime PM-induced redox activity in Thessaloniki is strongly
associated with wood smoke, originating from residential heating.
• Active involvement of public authorities and local air quality control
agencies is urgently required to implement effective air pollution control
strategies in the area.
• A practical long-term solution could be increased natural gas distribution
in residential areas.
• Catalytic domestic wood burners and increasing the energy efficiency of
existing buildings might be additional possible solutions
Acknowledgements:
• Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene for their assistance
with the chemical analyses.
• USC’s Provost and Viterbi Graduate Fellowships.
• Mr. Apostolos Kelessis from municipality of Thessaloniki for
facilitating the sampling campaign.
• Mayor’s Office- Municipality of Thessaloniki

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