Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 127, Issue 1, pp 477–487

Spatial & temporal variations of PM10 and particle number concentrations in urban air

  • Christer Johansson
  • Michael Norman
  • Lars Gidhagen
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10661-006-9296-4

Cite this article as:
Johansson, C., Norman, M. & Gidhagen, L. Environ Monit Assess (2007) 127: 477. doi:10.1007/s10661-006-9296-4


The size of particles in urban air varies over four orders of magnitude (from 0.001 μm to 10 μm in diameter). In many cities only particle mass concentrations (PM10, i.e. particles <10 μm diameter) is measured. In this paper we analyze how differences in emissions, background concentrations and meteorology affect the temporal and spatial distribution of PM10 and total particle number concentrations (PNC) based on measurements and dispersion modeling in Stockholm, Sweden. PNC at densely trafficked kerbside locations are dominated by ultrafine particles (<0.1 μm diameter) due to vehicle exhaust emissions as verified by high correlation with NOx. But PNC contribute only marginally to PM10, due to the small size of exhaust particles. Instead wear of the road surface is an important factor for the highest PM10 concentrations observed. In Stockholm, road wear increases drastically due to the use of studded tires and traction sand on streets during winter; up to 90% of the locally emitted PM10 may be due to road abrasion. PM10 emissions and concentrations, but not PNC, at kerbside are controlled by road moisture. Annual mean urban background PM10 levels are relatively uniformly distributed over the city, due to the importance of long range transport. For PNC local sources often dominate the concentrations resulting in large temporal and spatial gradients in the concentrations. Despite these differences in the origin of PM10 and PNC, the spatial gradients of annual mean concentrations due to local sources are of equal magnitude due to the common source, namely traffic. Thus, people in different areas experiencing a factor of 2 different annual PM10 exposure due to local sources will also experience a factor of 2 different exposure in terms of PNC. This implies that health impact studies based solely on spatial differences in annual exposure to PM10 may not separate differences in health effects due to ultrafine and coarse particles. On the other hand, health effect assessments based on time series exposure analysis of PM10 and PNC, should be able to observe differences in health effects of ultrafine particles versus coarse particles.


Coarse particles Health effect assessment Vehicle emissions Resuspension Traffic exhaust Ultrafine particles Urban aerosol 

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christer Johansson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michael Norman
    • 2
  • Lars Gidhagen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Applied Environmental ScienceStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  2. 2.City of Stockholm Environment and Health AdministrationStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological InstituteNorrköpingSweden