Urban Air Quality in Europe

Volume 26 of the series The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry pp 339-365


Nanoparticles in European Cities and Associated Health Impacts

  • Prashant KumarAffiliated withCivil Engineering (C5); Office 03AA03, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of SurreyFaculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences (FEPS), Environmental Flow (EnFlo) Research Centre, University of Surrey Email author 
  • , Lidia MorawskaAffiliated withInternational Laboratory for Air Quality and Health, Queensland University of Technology
  • , Roy M. HarrisonAffiliated withDivision of Environmental Health and Risk Management, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of BirminghamDepartment of Environmental Sciences/ Center of Excellence in Environmental Studies, King Abdulaziz University

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Atmospheric nanoparticles are a pollutant currently unregulated through ambient air quality standards. The aim of this chapter is to assess the environmental and health impacts of atmospheric nanoparticles in European environments. This chapter begins with the conventional information on the origin of atmospheric nanoparticles, followed by their physical and chemical characteristics. A brief overview of recently published review articles on this topic is then presented to guide those readers interested in exploring any specific aspect of nanoparticles in greater detail. A further section reports a summary of recently published studies on atmospheric nanoparticles in European cities. This covers a total of about 45 sampling locations in 30 different cities within 15 European countries for quantifying levels of roadside and urban background particle number concentrations (PNCs). Average PNCs at the reviewed roadside and urban background sites were found to be 3.82 ± 3.25 × 104 and 1.63 ± 0.82 × 104 cm−3, respectively, giving a roadside to background PNC ratio of ~2.4. Engineered nanoparticles are one of the key emerging categories of airborne nanoparticles, especially for the indoor environments. Their ambient concentrations may increase in future due to widespread use of nanotechnology integrated products. Evaluation of their sources and probable impacts on air quality and human health are briefly discussed in the following section. Respiratory deposition doses received by the public exposed to roadside PNCs in numerous European locations are then estimated. These were found to be in the 1.17–7.56 × 1010 h−1 range over the studied roadside European locations. The following section discusses the potential framework for airborne nanoparticle regulations in Europe and, in addition, the existing control measures to limit nanoparticle emissions at source. The chapter finally concludes with a synthesis of the topic areas covered and highlights important areas for further work.


Aerosol number and size distributions Engineered nanoparticles European environment Exposure–response doses Ultrafine particles