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Seasonal trends of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde in the megacity of São Paulo

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Publication details

DateAccepted/In press - 3 Aug 2017
DatePublished (current) - 8 Aug 2017
Issue number8
Number of pages18
Original languageEnglish


The Metropolitan Area of São Paulo (MASP) is the largest megacity in South America, with 21 million inhabitants and more than 8 million vehicles. Those vehicles run on a complex fuel mix, with ethanol accounting for nearly 50% of all fuel sold. That has made the MASP a unique case study to assess the impact of biofuel use on air quality. Currently, the greatest challenge in terms of improving air quality is controlling the formation of secondary pollutants such as ozone, which represents the main air pollution problem in the MASP.We evaluated the temporal trends in the concentrations of ozone, its precursors (formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, and NO2), CO, and NO, from 2012 to 2016. Formaldehyde and acetaldehyde concentrations were frequently higher in winter than in other seasons, showing the importance of meteorological conditions to the distribution of atmospheric pollutants in the MASP.We found no clear evidence that the recent growth in ethanol consumption in Brazil has affected acetaldehyde concentrations, which are associated with emissions from ethanol combustion. In fact, the formaldehyde/acetaldehyde ratio remained relatively constant over the period studied, despite the change in the fuel consumption profile in the MASP.

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© 2017 by the authors.

    Research areas

  • Air quality, Aldehydes, Biofuels, Carbonyl compounds, Ozone precursors, Pollution trends, volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

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