Articles online

Mass Concentration and Size-Distribution of Atmospheric Particulate Matter in an Urban Environment

Category: Aerosol and Atmospheric Chemistry

Volume: 17 | Issue: 5 | Pages: 1142-1155
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2016.08.0344
PDF | Supplemental material | RIS | BibTeX

Sabrina Rovelli 1, Andrea Cattaneo1, Francesca Borghi1, Andrea Spinazzè1, Davide Campagnolo2, Andreas Limbeck3, Domenico M. Cavallo1

  • 1 Department of Science and High Technology, University of Insubria, 22100 Como, Italy
  • 2 Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences-Hospital “L. Sacco”, University of Milan, 20157 Milano, Italy
  • 3 Institute of Chemical Technologies and Analytics, TU Wien, A-1060 Vienna, Austria


Size-segregated particles were collected at an urban background site.
DLPI was classified as comparable with respect to a co-located Harvard Impactor.
Temporal variability was related to meteorological factors and typical PM sources.
Appreciable seasonal differences were found for particles between 0.15 and 1.60 µm.
Ambient air particles exhibited a trimodal distribution.


To investigate the ambient mass concentration, size-distribution and temporal variability of atmospheric particulate matter (PM), a long-term monitoring campaign was undertaken at an urban background site in Como, Northern Italy, from May 2015 to March 2016. A 13-stage Low Pressure Impactor (DLPI) was used for the collection of size-segregated particulates in the 0.028–10 µm size range. The results revealed a good level of agreement between DLPI and a co-located Harvard-type PM2.5 Impactor, allowing them to be classified as comparable and characterized by a reciprocal predictability. The PM concentration levels varied greatly between the different 5-days monitoring sessions, with higher mean mass concentrations during the heating season. Appreciable seasonal differences were found for particles between 0.15 and 1.60 µm that, on average, registered concentration levels 3.5 times higher during the heating season (mean: 28.2 µg m–3; median: 24.4 µg m–3) compared to the non-heating season (mean: 8.3 µg m–3; median: 7.6 µg m–3). No relevant and significant differences were detected for the coarser ranges (> 1.60 µm). Temporal variabilities were influenced by typical PM urban sources (e.g., household heating, traffic), that significantly affected fine and submicrometer particles, and were related to meteorological factors. Ambient air particles exhibited a trimodal distribution: a first and sharp peak more pronounced during the heating season was identified between 0.3 and 0.5 µm and two other slight peaks in the coarse mode were centered on approximately 3 and 8 µm. No relevant differences were found in the shape of the size-distribution between the two investigated seasons. The mean PM2.5 (22.4 µg m–3) and PM10 (27.7 µg m–3) concentrations monitored in the study area exceeded the annual Air Quality Guideline Values (respectively equal to 10 µg m–3 and 20 µg m–3) established by the World Health Organization.


Size-segregated particles DLPI performance Temporal variability Mass size-distribution Heating and non-heating season

Related Article

Physicochemical Properties of Individual Airborne Particles in Beijing during Pollution Periods

Wenhua Wang, Longyi Shao , Menglong Guo, Cong Hou, Jiaoping Xing, Fan Wu

Chemical Characterization of Wintertime Aerosols over Islands and Mountains in East Asia: Impacts of the Continental Asian Outflow

Shantanu Kumar Pani, Chung-Te Lee , Charles C.-K. Chou, Kojiro Shimada, Shiro Hatakeyama, Akinori Takami, Sheng-Hsiang Wang, Neng-Huei Lin

Pollution Characteristics and Source Apportionment of PM2.5-Bound n-Alkanes in the Yangtze River Delta, China

Zhengyu Hong, Youwei Hong, Han Zhang, Jinsheng Chen , Lingling Xu, Junjun Deng, Wenjiao Du, Yanru Zhang, Hang Xiao
Accepted Manuscripts
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2016.12.0566