The concentration of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs) in the ambient air of a municipal solid waste incinerator (MSWI) during its running and non-running periods was monitored in this study to investigate the contribution of the MSWI to PCDD/F pollution in the vicinal environment. Results show that the PCDD/F levels for the normal MSWI running period and after shut-down ranged 0.156-1.44 pg I-TEQ/m(3) (0.514 pg I-TEQ/m(3)) and 0.158-0.648 pg I-TEQ/m(3) (0.345 pg I-TEQ/m(3)), respectively. Significant differences were found between the results of the two surveys in 2011 and 2012. High PCDD/F levels were observed in two of the seven study sites in 2011, and these levels directly declined in 2012. A dramatic increase in PCDD/F concentrations was observed in two sites in 2012. Comparison of congener and homologue fingerprint characteristics in the two surveys, together with principal component analysis, revealed that the PCDD/F levels in all of the samples collected in 2012 and in three of the samples collected in 2011 are mainly influenced by heavy traffic. MSWI is the primary PCDD/F emission sources of the PCDD/Fs detected in the remaining samples collected in 2011.