Study of PM10 and PM2.5 levels in three European cities: Analysis of intra and inter urban variations

P. A. Kassomenos, S. Vardoulakis, A. Chaloulakou, A. K. Paschalidou, G. Grivas, R. Borge, J. Lumbreras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


In the present paper, 1-year PM10 and PM2.5 data from roadside and urban background monitoring stations in Athens (Greece), Madrid (Spain) and London (UK) are analysed in relation to other air pollutants (NO, NO2, NOx, CO, O3 and SO2) and several meteorological parameters (wind velocity, temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, solar radiation and atmospheric pressure), in order to investigate the sources and factors affecting particulate pollution in large European cities. Principal component and regression analyses are therefore used to quantify the contribution of both combustion and non-combustion sources to the PM10 and PM2.5 levels observed. The analysis reveals that the EU legislated PM10 and PM2.5 limit values are frequently breached, forming a potential public health hazard in the areas studied. The seasonal variability patterns of particulates varies among cities and sites, with Athens and Madrid presenting higher PM10 concentrations during the warm period and suggesting the larger relative contribution of secondary and natural particles during hot and dry days. It is estimated that the contribution of non-combustion sources varies substantially among cities, sites and seasons and ranges between 38-67% and 40-62% in London, 26-50% and 20-62% in Athens, and 31-58% and 33-68% in Madrid, for both PM10 and PM2.5. Higher contributions from non-combustion sources are found at urban background sites in all three cities, whereas in the traffic sites the seasonal differences are smaller. In addition, the non-combustion fraction of both particle metrics is higher during the warm season at all sites. On the whole, the analysis provides evidence of the substantial impact of non-combustion sources on local air quality in all three cities. While vehicular exhaust emissions carry a large part of the risk posed on human health by particle exposure, it is most likely that mitigation measures designed for their reduction will have a major effect only at traffic sites and additional measures will be necessary for the control of background levels. However, efforts in mitigation strategies should always focus on optimal health effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-163
Number of pages11
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


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