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Spatial variations of PAH, hopanes/steranes and EC/OC concentrations within and between European study areas

Authors
Journal
Atmospheric Environment
1352-2310
Publisher
Elsevier
Volume
87
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2014.01.026
Keywords
  • Ec
  • Oc
  • Pah
  • Hopanes/Steranes
  • Pm2.5
  • Spatial Variation

Abstract

Abstract Limited information is available on the contribution of organic components in particulate matter to health effects related to fine particles. Spatial variability of specific fine particle organic components has not been assessed with consistent methods. The aim of this paper is to assess spatial variation of organic components of fine particles within and between European study areas. Highly standardized measurements of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), hopanes/steranes, elemental/organic carbon (EC/OC) and levoglucosan were performed measured in ten study areas across Europe. In each study area, measurements were conducted at street, urban and regional background sites. Three two-week samples were taken per site and the annual average levels of pollutants were calculated using continuous measurements at one background site as a reference. Substantial variations within and between the study areas were found. EC/OC and hopanes/steranes concentrations were highest in southern European study areas and lowest in northern locations. PAH concentrations were lowest in London/Oxford and highest in Copenhagen, Rome and Athens. Concentrations at street locations were higher than at background locations in all study areas and for all components. However, these differences varied considerably between study areas and components. EC had the highest median street to urban background ratio (1.62), OC the lowest (1.32). EC was highly correlated with NOx and PM2.5 absorbance in all areas, with median r = 0.85 and r = 0.89, respectively. The correlation between OC and other components was variable, with a median correlation of 0.65 with PM2.5 mass and a weak (0.18) correlation with Σhopanes/steranes. ΣPAH correlated moderately with EC (r = 0.59) and weakly with ∑hopanes/steranes (r = 0.36). In conclusion, substantial variability was found in spatial patterns of atmospheric EC, OC, PAH and hopanes/steranes both within and between European study areas. The application of this highly standardized measurement approach across different locations will contribute to a consistent assessment of air pollutant levels and potentially contribute to understanding health effects associated with them.

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