Temporal variation of volatile organic compounds and their major emission sources in Seoul, Korea

H. J. Shin, S. A. Roh, J. C. Kim, S. J. Lee, Y. P. Kim

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22 Scopus citations


This study examines the characteristics of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and their major emission sources at the Bulgwang site in Seoul, Korea. The annual levels of VOCs (96.2-121.1 ppb C) have shown a decreasing trend from 2004 to 2008. The most abundant component in Seoul was toluene, which accounted for over 23.5 % of the total VOCs on the parts per billion on a carbon basis, and the portions of alkanes with two to six carbons constituted the largest major lumped group, ranging from 40.1 to 48.4 % (45.3 ± 3.7 %) of the total VOCs. Major components of the solvent (toluene, m/p-xylene, o-xylene, and ethylbenzene) showed high in daytime and summer and low in nighttime and winter due mainly to the variation of the ambient temperature. The species mostly emitted from gasoline vapor (i/n-butane, i/n-pentane, n-hexane, and 2-methylpentane) and vehicular exhaust (ethylene, acetylene, and benzene) showed bimodal peaks in the diurnal variation around the commuting hours because of the high traffic volume. For the 14 out of 15 highest concentration species, the weekend effect was only evident on Sundays because of the stepwise implementation of the 5-day work-week system. Principal components analysis (PCA) was applied in order to identify the sources of the 15 highest concentration VOCs and, as a result, three principal components such as gasoline vapor (48.9 %), vehicular exhaust (17.9 %), and evaporation of solvents (9.8 %) were obtained to explain a total of 76.6 % of the data variance. Most influential contributing sources at the sampling site were traffic-related ones although the use of solvent was the dominant emission source based on the official emission inventory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8717-8728
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This work was supported by National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MEST; No. NRF 2012-0005208).


  • Principal components analysis
  • Temporal variation
  • Volatile organic compounds


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