Environ Pollut 2016 Nov 16;218:523-529. Epub 2016 Jul 16.
Institute of Loess Plateau, Shanxi University, Taiyuan 030006, China.
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the atmosphere can partition into agricultural crops, which poses a potential risk to human health through the food chain. In this study, controlled chamber experiments were conducted to investigate the kinetic uptake of anthracene (Ant), phenanthrene (Phe), fluoranthene (Fla) and pyrene (Pyr), individually or as a mixture, by the leaf surfaces of living soybean and corn seedlings using the excitation-emission matrix (EEM) coupled with three-way parallel factor analysis (PARAFAC) and n-way partial least squares (n-PLS). The four selected PAHs achieved equilibrium between the air and the two living crop leaf surfaces over the 15-day monitoring period. Inter-species and inter-chemical variability existed in terms of the time required to achieve equilibrium, mass transfer coefficients (k) and the equilibrated adsorption capacity (EAC), which was mainly attributed to the different lg K values among the four PAHs and the variable leaf-wax content between the soybean and corn species. Compared with when the PAHs existed singly, the time required to achieve adsorption equilibrium was longer while the EAC was reduced for each of the four PAHs in a mixture, which was attributed to competitive adsorption among the coexisting components. These findings prove that the novel analytical method provides a novel platform for the in situ characterization of the environmental behaviors of multiple PAHs, with their spectra overlapping, between the air and plant skin. The coexistence of multiple PAHs in the air inhibits their individual uptake capacity by crop leaf skin, but increases the total adsorption of PAHs, potentially reducing crop security and increasing human health risk via the terrestrial food web.