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Optical Properties, Chemical Composition and the Toxicological Potential of Urban Particulate Matter

Category: Urban Air Quality

Volume: 17 | Issue: 6 | Pages: 1515-1526
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2016.09.0395

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Máté Pintér1, Noémi Utry2, Tibor Ajtai 2,3, Gergely Kiss-Albert1, Beatrix Jancsek-Turóczi4, Kornélia Imre4, Andrea Palágyi5, László Manczinger5, Csaba Vágvölgyi5, Eszter Horváth6, Nóra Kováts6, András Gelencsér4, Gábor Szabó2, Zoltán Bozóki2

  • 1 Department of Optics and Quantum Electronics, University of Szeged, H-6720 Szeged, Hungary
  • 2 MTA-SZTE Research Group on Photoacoustic Spectroscopy, H-6720 Szeged, Hungary
  • 3 ELI-HU Non-Profit Ltd., H-6720 Szeged, Hungary
  • 4 MTA-PE Air Chemistry Research Group, H-8200 Veszprém, Hungary
  • 5 Department of Microbiology, University of Szeged, H-6720 Szeged, Hungary
  • 6 Institute of Environmental Sciences, University of Pannonia, H-8200 Veszprém, Hungary


The diurnal variation of urban aerosol properties was investigated.
Correlations between the optical and toxicological properties of CPM were studied.
We found correlation between the optical properties and the thermal stablily of CPM.
Moderate correlation was found between the optical response and ecotoxicity.


This paper discusses the diurnal variation and the interdependences between the physical, chemical and toxicological characteristics of atmospheric carbonaceous particulate matter (CPM) and co-emitted gaseous components. Measurements were carried out at two different urban sites during a 2-month period. On-line measured parameters were optical absorption coefficients (OAC), total number concentration (TNC), mass concentration of CPM and the concentration of gaseous species (CO, NOx and BTEX). Off-line analyses were carried out on filters collected with 6-hour time resolution. The concentrations of elemental carbon (EC), organic carbon (OC), total carbon (TC), levoglucosan (LG) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) were determined. The ecotoxicity of CPM was assessed by the Vibrio Fischeri marine bioluminescence inhibition bioassay (ISO 21338:2010). We found (r > 0.498) positive and wavelength dependent correlation between the CPM related parameters based on optical response (OAC, AAE) and thermal stability (TC, EC, OC, OC/TC). We also revealed weak (r = 0.309) or moderate (r = 0.448) correlation between the AAE and the ecotoxicity data indicating that carbonaceous fraction of the ambient particulate matter has ecotoxicological impact. Based on the determined correlations, we propose the applicability of the AAE determined by multi wavelength photoacoustic measurements as a possible candidate for first-screening the toxicological impact of optically active carbonaceous ambient particulate matter. The strengths and the limitations of this methodology are both discussed here.


Aerosol Angström Exponent Ecotoxicity Photoacoustic spectroscopy Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

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