Minna Aurela 1, Sanna Saarikoski1, Jarkko V. Niemi2,3, Francesco Canonaco4, Andre S.H. Prevot4, Anna Frey1, Samara Carbone1, Anu Kousa2, Risto Hillamo1

  • 1 Atmospheric Composition Research, Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 503, FI-00101 Helsinki, Finland
  • 2 Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority, P.O. Box 100, FI-00066 HSY, Helsinki, Finland
  • 3 Department Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 65, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
  • 4 Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institute, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland

Received: November 11, 2014
Revised: February 10, 2015
Accepted: March 14, 2015
Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2014.11.0279  

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Cite this article:
Aurela, M., Saarikoski, S., Niemi, J.V., Canonaco, F., Prevot, A.S., Frey, A., Carbone, S., Kousa, A. and Hillamo, R. (2015). Chemical and Source Characterization of Submicron Particles at Residential and Traffic Sites in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Finland. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 15: 1213-1226. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.2014.11.0279


  • PM1 chemical composition was defined with the ACSM at four sites in Helsinki.
  • Sources of organics were examined using ME-2 with custom software tool (SoFi).
  • High concentrations of BBOA were connected to cold and stagnant weather conditions.
  • The traffic sites had higher HOA contribution than the residential sites.
  • OOA had clearly the largest contribution to organic aerosol at all sites.



Chemical characterization of non-refractory submicron particles (NR-PM1) and source apportionment of organic aerosols (OA) were carried out at four different sites in the Helsinki metropolitan area, Finland, using an Aerodyne Aerosol Chemical Speciation Monitor (ACSM). Two of the sites represented suburban residential areas, whereas the other two were traffic sites, one in a curbside in downtown and the other one in a suburban highway edge. The residential and the curbside measurements were conducted during the winter, but the highway campaign was carried out in the autumn. NR-PM1 were composed mainly of organics (40–68% in the different sites), followed by sulphate (11–34%), nitrate (12–16%), ammonium (7.8–8.5%) and chloride (0.24–1.3%). The mean concentrations of NR-PM1 were quite similar during the winter campaigns (10.1–12.5 µg/m3), but NR-PM1 was clearly lower during the autumn campaign at the highway site (6.0 µg/m3) due to the meteorology (favourable mixing conditions), small concentrations of long-range transported particles and non-intensive heating period locally and regionally. Using a multilinear engine algorithm (ME-2) and the custom software tool Source Finder (SoFI), the organic fraction was divided into two or three types of OA representing hydrocarbon-like organic aerosol (HOA), oxygenated organic aerosol (OOA), and in three sites, biomass burning organic aerosol (BBOA). At the downtown traffic site (Curbside), BBOA could not be found, probably because most of the local wood burning occurs in the suburban areas of the Helsinki region. OOA had the largest contribution to OA at all the sites (50–67%). The contribution of HOA was higher at the traffic sites (25–32%) than at the residential sites (15–18%). At the suburban residential and highway sites, the contribution of BBOA was high (25–30%). Especially during cold periods, very high BBOA contributions (~50%) were observed at the residential sites.

Keywords: Chemical composition; Source apportionment; Fine particles; ACSM

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