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Size distribution and seasonal variation of airborne particulate matter in five areas in Istanbul, Turkey

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Goal, scope, and background

Many studies have focused on measuring fine and course particulate matter (PM) in urban and rural sites around the world. The aim of this research is to gain information on the size distribution of particles. The physical characteristics of PM in the urban air of Istanbul were determined.


PM sampling was carried out at five stations (Avcılar, Beşiktaş, Kilyos, Rasathane, and Göztepe) over a period of 2 years. PM filter samples were collected for eight different size ranges (<0.43, 0.43–1, 1–1.7, 1.7–2.6, 2.6–3.5, 3.5–5.2, 5.2–6.5, 6.5–8, and >8 μm) using a Cascade Impactor. The size distributions of the PM samples were determined.

Results and discussion

The mean total PM concentrations were 48.6 ± 34.0, 34.8 ± 11.6, 28.6 ± 13.6, 21.5 ± 9.1, and 16.8 ± 5.1 μg/m3 for the Göztepe, Beşiktaş, Avcılar, Rasathane, and Kilyos stations, respectively. The total PM concentrations were found to be 1.2–1.5 times higher in the fall and winter than in the spring and summer, except for at the station in Avcılar. The PM concentrations in Avcılar did not exhibit seasonal variations. This is thought to result from the intense industrial activity in the area. PM2.6 (below 2.6 μm particles) comprised up to 62% of the total amount of PM in samples collected at the Göztepe, Beşiktaş, and Rasathane stations during the fall and winter. PM1 was determined to be approximately 45% of the total, corresponding to 57% of the amount of PM2.5. A multi-modal PM size distribution was observed. The lowest Mass Median Aerodynamic Diameter (MMAD) values observed in Avcılar, Beşiktaş, Rasathane, and Göztepe were 4.2, 3.9, 2.9, and 3.5 μm, respectively, and were observed during the season of active household heating. No difference was measured in the MMAD values (5.2 μm) between the seasons of heating and non-heating in Kilyos.

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We gratefully acknowledge the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) and the Research Fund of the Istanbul University for financially supporting our study with project no. 107Y161 and T-3783, respectively.

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Correspondence to Ülkü Alver Şahin.

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Responsible editor: Euripides Stephanou

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Şahin, Ü.A., Scherbakova, K. & Onat, B. Size distribution and seasonal variation of airborne particulate matter in five areas in Istanbul, Turkey. Environ Sci Pollut Res 19, 1198–1209 (2012).

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  • Particulate matter
  • Cascade impactor
  • İstanbul
  • Size distribution
  • Season
  • Fine PM