Emissions of organic compounds and trace metals in fine particulate matter from motor vehicles: a tunnel study in Houston, Texas. Academic Article uri icon


  • Fine particulate matter (PM) samples collected in a highway tunnel in Houston, TX, were analyzed to quantify the concentrations of 14 n-alkanes, 12 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and nine petroleum biomarkers, as well as 21 metals, with the ultimate aim of identifying appropriate tracers for diesel engines. First, an exploratory multivariate dimensionality reduction technique called principal component analysis (PCA) was employed to identify all potential candidates for tracers. Next, emission indices were calculated to interpret PCA results physically. Emission indices of n-heneicosane, n-docosane, n-tricosane, n-tetracosane, n-pentacosane, fluoranthene, and pyrene were correlated highly and increased strongly with percentage carbon present in the tunnel emanating from diesel vehicles. This suggests that these organic compounds are useful molecular markers to separate emissions from diesel and gasoline engines. Additionally, the results are the first quantification of the metal composition of PM with aerodynamic diameters smaller than 2.5 microm (PM2.5) emissions from mobile sources in Houston. PCA of trace metal concentrations followed by emission index calculations revealed that barium in fine airborne particles can be linked quantitatively to diesel engine emissions, demonstrating its role as an elemental tracer for heavy-duty trucks.

published proceedings

  • J Air Waste Manag Assoc

author list (cited authors)

  • Chellam, S., Kulkarni, P., & Fraser, M. P.

citation count

  • 60

complete list of authors

  • Chellam, Shankararaman||Kulkarni, Pranav||Fraser, Matthew P

publication date

  • January 2005