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Emission of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and their carcinogenic potencies from cooking sources to the urban atmosphere.

Environmental Health Perspectives
Environmental Health Perspectives
Publication Date
  • Research Article


Traffic has long been recognized as the major contributor to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations. However, this does not consider the contribution of cooking sources of PAHs. This study set out, first, to assess the characteristics of PAHs and their corresponding benzo[a]pyrene equivalent (B[a]Peq) emissions from cooking sources to the urban atmosphere. To illustrate the importance of cooking sources, PAH emissions from traffic sources were then calculated and compared. The entire study was conducted on a city located in southern Taiwan. PAH samples were collected from the exhaust stacks of four types of restaurant: Chinese, Western, fast food, and Japanese. For total PAHs, results show that the fractions of gaseous PAHs (range, 75.9-89.9%) were consistently higher than the fractions of particulate PAHs (range, 10.1-24.1%) in emissions from the four types of restaurant. But for total B[a]Peq, we found that the contributions of gaseous PAHs (range, 15.7-21.9%) were consistently lower than the contributions of particulate PAHs (range, 78.1-84.3%). For emission rates of both total PAHs and total B[a]Peq, a consistent trend was found for the four types of restaurant: Chinese (2,038 and 154 kg/year, respectively) > Western (258 and 20.4 kg/year, respectively) > fast food (31.4 and 0.104 kg/year, respectively) > Japanese (5.11 and 0.014 kg/year, respectively). By directly adapting the emission data obtained from Chinese restaurants, we found that emission rates on total PAHs and total B[a]Peq for home kitchen sources were 6,639 and 501 kg/year, respectively. By combining both restaurant sources and home kitchen sources, this study yielded emission rates of total PAHs and total B[a]Peq from cooking sources of the studied city of 8,973 and 675 kg/year, respectively. Compared with PAH emissions from traffic sources in the same city, we found that although the emission rates of total PAHs for cooking sources were significantly less than those for traffic sources (13,500 kg/year), the emission rates of total B[a]Peq for cooking sources were much higher than those for traffic sources (61.4 kg/year). The above results clearly indicate that although cooking sources are less important than traffic sources in contributing to total PAH emissions, PAH emissions from cooking sources might cause much more serious problems than traffic sources, from the perspective of carcinogenic potency.

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