Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 28, pp 27839–27857 | Cite as

A review on the direct effect of particulate atmospheric pollution on materials and its mitigation for sustainable cities and societies

  • Hanadi Al-Thani
  • Muammer Koç
  • Rima J. IsaifanEmail author
Review Article


Particulate matter (PM) has gained significant attention due to the increasing concerns related to their effects on human health. Although several reviews have shed light on the effect of PM on human health, their critical adverse effect on material’s structure and sustainability was almost neglected. The current study is an attempt to fill this gap related to PM impact on structural materials under the overall consideration of sustainability. More specifically, this review highlights the existing knowledge by providing an overview on PM classification, composition, and sources in different locations around the world. Then, it focuses on PM soiling of surfaces such as solar panels due to an increasing need to mitigate the impact of soiling on reducing photovoltaic (PV) power output and financial competitiveness in dusty regions. This topic is of critical importance for sustainable deployment of solar energy in arid and desert areas around the world to help in reducing their impact on overall climate change and life quality. In addition, this review summarizes climate change phenomena driven by the increase of PM concentration in air such as radiative forcing and acid rain deposition due to their impact on human health, visibility and biodiversity. To this end, this work highlights the role of process management, choice of fuel, the implementation of clean technologies and urban vegetation as some possible sustainable mitigation policies to control PM pollution in cities and urban regions. This research is designed to conduct a comprehensive narrative literature review which targets broad spectrum of readers and new researchers in the field. Moreover, it provides a critical analysis highlighting the need to fill main research gaps in this domain. The findings of this review paper show that PM pollution imposes severe adverse impacts on materials, structures and climate which directly affect the sustainability of urban cities. The advantages of this review include the value of the extensive works that elaborate on the negative impacts of PM atmospheric pollution towards high level of public awareness, management flexibility, stakeholder’s involvements, and collaboration between academy, research, and industry to mitigate PM impact on materials and human welfare.


Air quality Particulate matter Atmospheric pollution Materials Soiling Solar 


Author contributions

H. A., M. K., and R. I. contributed to writing the article.

Compliance with ethical standards

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_2952_MOESM1_ESM.docx (637 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 636 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Sustainable Development (DSD)Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU)/Qatar Foundation (QF)DohaQatar
  2. 2.Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI)Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU)/Qatar Foundation (QF)DohaQatar

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