UNMIX, a sensor modeling routine from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was used to model volatile organic compound (VOC) receptors in four urban sites in Toronto, Ontario. VOC ambient concentration data acquired in 2000–2009 for 175 VOC species in four air quality monitoring stations were analyzed. UNMIX, by performing multiple modeling attempts upon varying VOC menus—while rejecting the results that were not reliable—allowed for discriminating sources by their most consistent chemical characteristics. The method assessed occurrences of VOCs in sources typical of the urban environment (traffic, evaporative emissions of fuels, banks of fugitive inert gases), industrial point sources (plastic-, polymer-, and metalworking manufactures), and in secondary sources (releases from water, sediments, and contaminated urban soil). The remote sensing and robust modeling used here produces chemical profiles of putative VOC sources that, if combined with known environmental fates of VOCs, can be used to assign physical sources’ shares of VOCs emissions into the atmosphere. This in turn provides a means of assessing the impact of environmental policies on one hand, and industrial activities on the other hand, on VOC air pollution.
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