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Traffic is a major source of atmospheric nanocluster aerosol

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7549-7554
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume114
Issue number29
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2017
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Abstract

In densely populated areas, traffic is a significant source of atmospheric aerosol particles. Owing to their small size and complicated chemical and physical characteristics, atmospheric particles resulting from traffic emissions pose a significant risk to human health and also contribute to anthropogenic forcing of climate. Previous research has established that vehicles directly emit primary aerosol particles and also contribute to secondary aerosol particle formation by emitting aerosol precursors. Here, we extend the urban atmospheric aerosol characterization to cover nanocluster aerosol (NCA) particles and show that a major fraction of particles emitted by road transportation are in a previously unmeasured size range of 1.3–3.0 nm. For instance, in a semiurban roadside environment, the NCA represented 20–54% of the total particle concentration in ambient air. The observed NCA concentrations varied significantly depending on the traffic rate and wind direction. The emission factors of NCA for traffic were 2.4·1015 (kgfuel)−1 in a roadside environment, 2.6·1015 (kgfuel)−1 in a street canyon, and 2.9·1015 (kgfuel)−1 in an on-road study throughout Europe. Interestingly, these emissions were not associated with all vehicles. In engine laboratory experiments, the emission factor of exhaust NCA varied from a relatively low value of 1.6·1012 (kgfuel)−1 to a high value of 4.3·1015 (kgfuel)−1. These NCA emissions directly affect particle concentrations and human exposure to nanosized aerosol in urban areas, and potentially may act as nanosized condensation nuclei for the condensation of atmospheric low-volatile organic compounds.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

Keywords

  • Air pollution, Atmospheric aerosol, Combustion-derived nanoparticles, Nanocluster aerosol, Traffic emission

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Field of science, Statistics Finland

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