Articles | Volume 16, issue 9
Research article
03 May 2016
Research article |  | 03 May 2016

Chemical and physical characterization of traffic particles in four different highway environments in the Helsinki metropolitan area

Joonas Enroth, Sanna Saarikoski, Jarkko Niemi, Anu Kousa, Irena Ježek, Griša Močnik, Samara Carbone, Heino Kuuluvainen, Topi Rönkkö, Risto Hillamo, and Liisa Pirjola

Abstract. Traffic-related pollution is a major concern in urban areas due to its deleterious effects on human health. The characteristics of the traffic emissions on four highway environments in the Helsinki metropolitan area were measured with a mobile laboratory, equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation. Concentration gradients were observed for all traffic-related pollutants, particle number (CN), particulate mass (PM1), black carbon (BC), organics, and nitrogen oxides (NO and NO2). Flow dynamics in different environments appeared to be an important factor for the dilution of the pollutants. For example, the half-decay distances for the traffic-related CN concentrations varied from 8 to 83 m at different sites. The PM1 emissions from traffic mostly consisted of organics and BC. At the most open site, the ratio of organics to BC increased with distance to the highway, indicating condensation of volatile and semi-volatile organics on BC particles. These condensed organics were shown to be hydrocarbons as the fraction of hydrocarbon fragments in organics increased. Regarding the CN size distributions, particle growth during the dilution was not observed; however the mass size distributions measured with a soot particle aerosol mass spectrometer (SP-AMS), showed a visible shift of the mode, detected at  ∼  100 nm at the roadside, to a larger size when the distance to the roadside increased. The fleet average emission factors appeared to be lower for the CN and higher for the NO2 than ten years ago. The reason is likely to be the increased fraction of light-duty (LD) diesel vehicles in the past ten years. The fraction of heavy-duty (HD) traffic, although constituting less than 10 % of the total traffic flow, was found to have a large impact on the emissions.

Short summary
This paper presents a comprehensive summary of roadside measurements using a mobile laboratory, equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation. Pollution gradients were observed for particle number, black carbon, organics, some metals, and gases at four different highway environments. Flow dynamics appeared to be an important factor, however, at the most open site, condensation of semi-volatile organics was observed. The fleet average NO2 emission factor increased over the last decade.
Final-revised paper