Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 19, Issue 9, pp 4159–4167 | Cite as

Influences of natural emission sources (wildfires and Saharan dust) on the urban organic aerosol in Barcelona (Western Mediterranean Basis) during a PM event

  • Barend L. van DroogeEmail author
  • Jordi F. Lopez
  • Joan O. Grimalt
Research Article


The urban air quality in Barcelona in the Western Mediterranean Basin is characterized by overall high particulate matter (PM) concentrations, due to intensive local anthropogenic emissions and specific meteorological conditions. Moreover, on several days, especially in summer, natural PM sources, such as long-range transported Saharan dust from Northern Africa or wildfires on the Iberian Peninsula and around the Mediterranean Basin, may influence the levels and composition of the organic aerosol. In the second half of July 2009, daily collected PM10 filter samples in an urban background site in Barcelona were analyzed on organic tracer compounds representing several emission sources. During this period, an important PM peak event was observed. Individual organic compound concentrations increased two to five times during this event. Although highest increase was observed for the organic tracer of biomass burning, the contribution to the organic aerosol was estimated to be around 6 %. Organic tracers that could be related to Saharan dust showed no correlation with the PM and OC levels, while this was the case for those related to fossil fuel combustion from traffic emissions. Moreover, a change in the meteorological conditions gave way to an overall increase of the urban background contamination. Long-range atmospheric transport of organic compounds from primary emissions sources (i.e., wildfires and Saharan dust) has a relatively moderate impact on the organic aerosol in an urban area where the local emissions are dominating.


Barcelona Hydrocarbons PM10 Biomass combustion Saharan dust 



Authors thank Dr. Xavier Querol of IDÆA-CSIC and Dr. M. Aceves of EMA for the valuable discussion and critically reading of the manuscript. Technical assistance from R. Chaler and D. Fanjul is acknowledged. Financial support for this study was provided by the Consolider-Ingenio Project GRACCIE (CSD2007-00067) and AERTRANS (CTQ2009-14777-C02-01).

Supplementary material

11356_2012_890_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.2 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 1219 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barend L. van Drooge
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jordi F. Lopez
    • 1
  • Joan O. Grimalt
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Environmental Diagnostics and Water Research (IDÆA-CSIC)BarcelonaSpain

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