Source-apportionment and spatial distribution analysis of VOCs and their role in ozone formation using machine learning in central-west Taiwan

Manisha Mishra, Pin Hsin Chen, Wilfredo Bisquera, Guan Yu Lin*, Thi Cuc Le, Racha Dejchanchaiwong, Perapong Tekasakul, Ciao Wei Jhang, Ci Jhen Wu, Chuen Jinn Tsai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This study assessed the machine learning based sensitivity analysis coupled with source-apportionment of volatile organic carbons (VOCs) to look into new insights of O3 pollution in Yunlin County located in central-west region of Taiwan. One-year (Jan 1 to Dec 31, 2021) hourly mass concentrations data of 54 VOCs, NOX, and O3 from 10 photochemical assessment monitoring stations (PAMs) in and around the Yunlin County were analyzed. The novelty of the study lies in the utilization of artificial neural network (ANN) to evaluate the contribution of VOCs sources in O3 pollution in the region. Firstly, the station specific source-apportionment of VOCs were carried out using positive matrix factorization (PMF)—resolving six sources viz. AAM: aged air mass, CM: chemical manufacturing, IC: Industrial combustion, PP: petrochemical plants, SU: solvent use and VE: vehicular emissions. AAM, SU, and VE constituted cumulatively more than 65% of the total emission of VOCs across all 10 PAMs. Diurnal and spatial variability of source-segregated VOCs showed large variations across 10 PAMs, suggesting for distinctly different impact of contributing sources, photo-chemical reactivity, and/or dispersion due to land-sea breezes at the monitoring stations. Secondly, to understand the contribution of controllable factors governing the O3 pollution, the output of VOCs source-contributions from PMF model along with mass concentrations of NOX were standardized and first time used as input variables to ANN, a supervised machine learning algorithm. ANN analysis revealed following order of sensitivity in factors governing the O3 pollution: VOCs from IC > AAM > VE ≈ CM ≈ SU > PP ≈ NOX. The results indicated that VOCs associated with IC (VOCs-IC) being the most sensitive factor which need to be regulated more efficiently to quickly mitigate the O3 pollution across the Yunlin County.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116329
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2023


  • Artificial neural network (ANN)
  • Ozone
  • Positive matrix factorization (PMF)
  • Source tracing
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)


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