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Coarse-Particle Passive-Sampler Measurements and Single-Particle Analysis by Transmitted Light Microscopy at Highly Frequented Motorways

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Article In Press
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2017.02.0064
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Zhaoxue Tian1,2,4, Volker Dietze2, Frank Sommer4, Anja Baum3, Uwe Kaminski2, Jan Sauer3, Christoph Maschowski4, Peter Stille5, Kuang Cen1, Reto Gieré 6

  • 1 School of Earth Sciences and Resources, China University of Geosciences (Beijing), Beijing 100083, China
  • 2 Air Quality Department, Research Center Human Biometeorology, German Meteorological Service, 79104 Freiburg, Germany
  • 3 Federal Highway Research Institute, 51427 Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
  • 4 Institute for Geo- and Environmental Natural Sciences, Freiburg University, 79104 Freiburg, Germany
  • 5 Laboratory of Hydrology and Geochemistry of Strasbourg, Strasbourg University, 67084 Strasbourg, France
  • 6 Department of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6316, USA


Fully automated transmitted light microscopy with single-particle characterization.
PM concentration vs. seasonal meteorological parameters and traffic characteristics.
Quantitative determination of precipitation impact on the particle load.
Field measurements consistent with results from former laboratory studies.


Measuring and characterizing airborne particulate matter (PM) is an important research area because PM can lead to impacts on health and to visibility reduction, material damage and groundwater pollution. In regard to road dust, suspension and re-suspension and the contribution of non-exhaust PM to total traffic emissions are expected to increase as a result of predicted climate scenarios. European environmental regulations have been enforced to reduce exhaust particle emissions from road traffic, but little attention has been paid to reducing non-exhaust coarse particle emissions due to traffic. Therefore, a monitoring program for coarse PM has been initiated in early 2013 to assess the predicted increase in the abundance of non-exhaust particles. Particle sampling was performed with the passive-sampler technique Sigma-2. The subsequent single-particle analysis allows for characterization of individual particles, determination of PM size distribution, and calculation of PM mass concentrations. Two motorways near Cologne (Köln), Germany were selected as sampling sites, and the experimental setup in the field was realized with a so-called twin-site method. The present study reports single-particle analysis data for samples collected between May 31, 2013 and May 30, 2014. Coarse PM, generated through multi-source mechanisms, consists of, e.g., tire-wear, soot aggregates, and mineral dust. The highest mass concentration occurs at both motorways in spring, and the observed PM mainly contains traffic-abrasion particles. The field measurements show that the minimum PM concentration was found in the 5 to 12°C temperature range, whereas the maximum concentration was observed in both the –5 to 5°C and the 12 to 24°C ranges, in agreement with previous laboratory measurements. Correlation between super-coarse (dp 10–80 µm, geometric equivalent diameter) PM concentration and precipitation displays a significant increase in concentration with decreasing number of precipitation events (dry weather periods).


Passive-sampling Individual particle characterization Particle size distribution Seasonal meteorology Traffic impact

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