The effectiveness of the government regulation on tail-pipe emission for diesel vehicles issued in 2003 in Tokyo was evaluated in this study. Variations in annual average concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and nitro-PAHs associated with airborne particulate matter were investigated in connection with the variation in airborne elemental carbon (EC) concentration in downtown Tokyo, Japan in 2006-2007 and in 1997-1998. The annual average concentrations of EC, seven different PAHs, and 1-nitropyrene were found to have decreased significantly from 1997-1998 to 2006-2007. The most prominent decrease in atmospheric concentration was observed for 1-nitropyrene, which is a representative nitro-PAH originating from diesel vehicles. This indicated that the government control has worked to considerably reduce both atmospheric mutagens and airborne particulate matter. In contrast, the concentrations of two nitro-PAHs, 2-nitrofluoranthene and 2-nitropyrene, remained the same. These nitro-PAHs are known to be formed by atmospheric nitration of their parent PAHs, and this result suggested factors other than the concentration of parent PAHs and NO2 affects the degree of atmospheric formation of nitro-PAHs.
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