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Impact of Traffic Flows and Meteorological Events on the Hourly Elemental Composition of Fine and Coarse Particles at an Urban Site

Category: Aerosol and Atmospheric Chemistry

Accepted Manuscripts
DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.09.0437
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To cite this article:
Nicolás, J., Lucarelli, F., Galindo, N., Yubero, E., Crespo, J., Calzolai, G. and Nava, S. (2020). Impact of Traffic Flows and Meteorological Events on the Hourly Elemental Composition of Fine and Coarse Particles at an Urban Site. Aerosol Air Qual. Res., doi: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.09.0437.

Jose Nicolás 1, Franco Lucarelli2, Nuria Galindo1, Eduardo Yubero1, Javier Crespo1, Giulia Calzolai2, Silvia Nava2

  • 1 Atmospheric Pollution Laboratory (LCA), Department of Applied Physics, Miguel Hernández University, Avenida de la Universidad S/N, 03202 Elche, Spain
  • 2 Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Florence and INFN, Sesto Fiorentino, Italy


  • Tracers of non-exhaust emissions in PM2.5-10 show the best correlations with traffic.
  • Greater impact of Saharan dust on elements in the coarse fraction.
  • Elements in the coarse fraction were more affected by wet scavenging.


Hourly PM2.5 and PM2.5-10 samples were collected during a week at an urban site located on the Spanish Mediterranean coast by a Streaker sampler. Samples were subsequently analyzed to determine the elemental composition by the PIXE technique. Although elemental concentrations at the sampling site were influenced by traffic flows, atmospheric levels of traffic-related components lay in the lower range of the values reported for other urban stations of similar characteristics. Concentrations of elements used as tracers of non-exhaust emissions (Cu, Zn, Mn, Al, Ca and Fe) in PM2.5-10 showed the best correlations with traffic densities (R2 > 0.5). The correlation coefficients calculated for the fine fraction were lower. A short Saharan dust event identified during the study period increased the concentrations of crustal elements (Al, Ca, K, Ti, Sr and Fe) mainly in the coarse fraction. Nevertheless, the relative increase in the concentrations of sea-spray elements was higher, indicating that the Saharan dust plume reached the sampling site along a marine-path. Thanks to the high temporal resolution of PM sampling, the effect of a brief but intense precipitation event could be stablished. During this episode, peaking at a value of 17 l m-2 in one hour, a higher atmospheric removal efficiency was observed for coarse particles than for fine particles. The concentrations of most of the elements analysed in PM2.5-10 were reduced to values below detection limits.


Streaker PIXE Traffic Saharan dust Precipitation

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