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Characterization of Traffic-Related Particulate Matter Emissions in a Road Tunnel in Birmingham, UK: Trace Metals and Organic Molecular Markers

Category: Urban Air Quality

Volume: 17 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 117-130
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2016.01.0040
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Pallavi Pant, Zongbo Shi, Francis D. Pope, Roy M. Harrison

  • Division of Environmental Health and Risk Management, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Highlights

PM was characterized in a tunnel and an urban background location in Birmingham, UK.
PM concentrations, speciation and size distribution were measured.
Trace metals, PAH, hopanes and alkanes were analysed.
Size distributions of trace metals in tunnel peak at ca. 3 µm.
A PM2.5 source profile for mixed fleet traffic was prepared using Lenschow approach.


Abstract

Road traffic is one of the key sources of particulate matter (PM) in urban areas, and an understanding of the chemical composition of traffic emissions is important for source apportionment analysis. In this study, PM samples were collected simultaneously in a road tunnel and at a background site in Birmingham (UK) and analysed for a suite of elemental and organic species (hopanes, alkanes and PAH) with an aim to characterize the vehicular emissions in a tunnel environment and to prepare a composite mixed fleet profile for PM2.5 traffic emissions. Large enrichment was observed for many organic and elemental species in the case of the tunnel samples with respect to the background site. The tunnel samples show a large enrichment of trace elements relative to the urban background with a mode at ca. 3 µm in the mass size distribution, indicative of emissions resulting from resuspension/abrasion sources. Cu, Ba and Sb were found to have the characteristic non-exhaust (brake wear) emission peaks in the coarse size range in the tunnel. A composite PM2.5 traffic profile was prepared using the data from the two sites, and was compared against previously reported profiles. The profile was also compared against other traffic profiles from Europe and USA, and was found to be very similar to the previously-reported PM2.5 composite traffic profile from the UK. However, the uncertainties associated with the species were found to be much lower in the case of the tunnel profile from this study, and we conclude that this profile would be very suitable for use in Chemical Mass Balance Model analyses for the UK and other countries with a similar road traffic fleet mix.

Keywords

Molecular markers Source profile Europe Traffic Road tunnel


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