Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Chemical and source characterisation of size-segregated urban air particulate matter

Markus Sillanpää

Doctoral dissertation, October 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry, Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry and Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Recent epidemiological studies have shown a consistent association of the mass concentration of urban air thoracic (PM10) and fine (PM2.5) particles with mortality and morbidity among cardiorespiratory patients. However, the chemical characteristics of different particulate size ranges and the biological mechanisms responsible for these adverse health effects are not well known. The principal aims of this thesis were to validate a high volume cascade impactor (HVCI) for the collection of particulate matter for physicochemical and toxicological studies, and to make an in-depth chemical and source characterisation of samples collected during different pollution situations.

The particulate samples were collected with the HVCI, virtual impactors and a Berner low pressure impactor in six European cities: Helsinki, Duisburg, Prague, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Athens. The samples were analysed for particle mass, common ions, total and water-soluble elements as well as elemental and organic carbon.

Laboratory calibration and field comparisons indicated that the HVCI can provide a unique large capacity, high efficiency sampling of size-segregated aerosol particles. The cutoff sizes of the recommended HVCI configuration were 2.4, 0.9 and 0.2 μm. The HVCI mass concentrations were in a good agreement with the reference methods, but the chemical composition of especially the fine particulate samples showed some differences. This implies that the chemical characterization of the exposure variable in toxicological studies needs to be done from the same HVCI samples as used in cell and animal studies. The data from parallel, low volume reference samplers provide valuable additional information for chemical mass closure and source assessment.

The major components of PM2.5 in the virtual impactor samples were carbonaceous compounds, secondary inorganic ions and sea salt, whereas those of coarse particles (PM2.5-10) were soil-derived compounds, carbonaceous compounds, sea salt and nitrate. The major and minor components together accounted for 77-106% and 77-96% of the gravimetrically-measured masses of fine and coarse particles, respectively. Relatively large differences between sampling campaigns were observed in the organic carbon content of the PM2.5 samples as well as the mineral composition of the PM2.5-10 samples. A source assessment based on chemical tracers suggested clear differences in the dominant sources (e.g. traffic, residential heating with solid fuels, metal industry plants, regional or long-range transport) between the sampling campaigns. In summary, the field campaigns exhibited different profiles with regard to particulate sources, size distribution and chemical composition, thus, providing a highly useful setup for toxicological studies on the size-segregated HVCI samples.

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Last updated 28.09.2006

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