Urban Leakage of Liquefied Petroleum Gas and Its Impact on Mexico City Air Quality

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Science  18 Aug 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5226, pp. 953-956
DOI: 10.1126/science.269.5226.953


Alkane hydrocarbons (propane, isobutane, and n-butane) from liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) are present in major quantities throughout Mexico City air because of leakage of the unburned gas from numerous urban sources. These hydrocarbons, together with olefinic minor LPG components, furnish substantial amounts of hydroxyl radical reactivity, a major precursor to formation of the ozone component of urban smog. The combined processes of unburned leakage and incomplete combustion of LPG play a significant role in causing the excessive ozone characteristic of Mexico City. Reductions in ozone levels should be possible through changes in LPG composition and lowered rates of leakage.