Articles | Volume 16, issue 5
Research article
14 Mar 2016
Research article |  | 14 Mar 2016

AIRUSE-LIFE+: a harmonized PM speciation and source apportionment in five southern European cities

Fulvio Amato, Andrés Alastuey, Angeliki Karanasiou, Franco Lucarelli, Silvia Nava, Giulia Calzolai, Mirko Severi, Silvia Becagli, Vorne L. Gianelle, Cristina Colombi, Celia Alves, Danilo Custódio, Teresa Nunes, Mario Cerqueira, Casimiro Pio, Konstantinos Eleftheriadis, Evangelia Diapouli, Cristina Reche, María Cruz Minguillón, Manousos-Ioannis Manousakas, Thomas Maggos, Stergios Vratolis, Roy M. Harrison, and Xavier Querol

Abstract. The AIRUSE-LIFE+ project aims at characterizing similarities and heterogeneities in particulate matter (PM) sources and contributions in urban areas from southern Europe. Once the main PMx sources are identified, AIRUSE aims at developing and testing the efficiency of specific and non-specific measures to improve urban air quality. This article reports the results of the source apportionment of PM10 and PM2.5 conducted at three urban background sites (Barcelona, Florence and Milan, BCN-UB, FI-UB and MLN-UB), one suburban background site (Athens, ATH-SUB) and one traffic site (Porto, POR-TR). After collecting 1047 PM10 and 1116 PM2.5 24 h samples during 12 months (from January 2013 on) simultaneously at the five cities, these were analysed for the contents of OC, EC, anions, cations, major and trace elements and levoglucosan. The USEPA PMF5 receptor model was applied to these data sets in a harmonized way for each city.

The sum of vehicle exhaust (VEX) and non-exhaust (NEX) contributes between 3.9 and 10.8 µg m−3 (16–32 %) to PM10 and 2.3 and 9.4 µg m−3 (15–36 %) to PM2.5, although a fraction of secondary nitrate is also traffic-related but could not be estimated. Important contributions arise from secondary particles (nitrate, sulfate and organics) in PM2.5 (37–82 %) but also in PM10 (40–71 %), mostly at background sites, revealing the importance of abating gaseous precursors in designing air quality plans.

Biomass burning (BB) contributions vary widely, from 14–24 % of PM10 in POR-TR, MLN-UB and FI-UB, 7 % in ATH-SUB, to  <  2 % in BCN-UB. In PM2.5, BB is the second most important source in MLN-UB (21 %) and in POR-TR (18 %), the third one in FI-UB (21 %) and ATH-SUB (11 %), but is again negligible (< 2 %) in BCN-UB. This large variability among cities is mostly due to the degree of penetration of biomass for residential heating. In Barcelona natural gas is very well supplied across the city and is used as fuel in 96 % of homes, while in other cities, PM levels increase on an annual basis by 1–9 µg m−3 due to biomass burning influence. Other significant sources are the following.

– Local dust, 7–12 % of PM10 at SUB and UB sites and 19 % at the TR site, revealing a contribution from road dust resuspension. In PM2.5 percentages decrease to 2–7 % at SUB-UB sites and 15 % at the TR site.

– Industry, mainly metallurgy, contributing 4–11 % of PM10 (5–12 % in PM2.5), but only at BCN-UB, POR-TR and MLN-UB. No clear impact of industrial emissions was found in FI-UB and ATH-SUB.

– Natural contributions from sea salt (13 % of PM10 in POR-TR, but only 2–7 % in the other cities) and Saharan dust (14 % in ATH-SUB, but less than 4 % in the other cities).

During high pollution days, the largest sources (i.e. excluding secondary aerosol factors) of PM10 and PM2.5 are VEX + NEX in BCN-UB (27–22 %) and POR-TR (31–33 %), BB in FI-UB (30–33 %) and MLN-UB (35–26 %) and Saharan dust in ATH-SUB (52–45 %). During those days, there are also quite important industrial contributions in BCN-UB (17–18 %) and local dust in POR-TR (28–20 %).

Short summary
Harmonized source apportionment of atmospheric particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) at 5 EU cities (Barcelona, Florence, Milan, Athens and Porto) reveals that vehicle exhaust (excluding nitrate) plus non-exhaust contributes 16–32 % to PM10 and 15–36 % to PM2.5. Secondary PM represents 37–82 % of PM2.5. Biomass burning varies from < 2 to 24 % of PM10, depending on the residential heating fuel. Other sources are local dust (7–19 % of PM10), industries (4–11 % of PM10), shipping, sea salt and Saharan dust.
Final-revised paper