Snapshots of wintertime urban aerosol characteristics: Local sources emphasized in ultrafine particle number and lung deposited surface area

Teemu Lepistö, Luis M.F. Barreira, Aku Helin, Jarkko V. Niemi, Niina Kuittinen, Henna Lintusaari, Ville Silvonen, Lassi Markkula, Hanna E. Manninen, Hilkka Timonen, Pasi Jalava, Sanna Saarikoski, Topi Rönkkö

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Urban air fine particles are a major health-relating problem. However, it is not well understood how the health-relevant features of fine particles should be monitored. Limitations of PM2.5 (mass concentration of sub 2.5 μm particles), which is commonly used in the health effect estimations, have been recognized and, e.g., World Health Organization (WHO) has released good practice statements for particle number (PN) and black carbon (BC) concentrations (2021). In this study, a characterization of urban wintertime aerosol was done in three environments: a detached housing area with residential wood combustion, traffic-influenced streets in a city centre and near an airport. The particle characteristics varied significantly between the locations, resulting different average particle sizes causing lung deposited surface area (LDSA). Near the airport, departing planes had a major contribution on PN, and most particles were smaller than 10 nm, similarly as in the city centre. The high hourly mean PN (>20 000 1/cm3) stated in the WHO's good practices was clearly exceeded near the airport and in the city centre, even though traffic rates were reduced due to a SARS-CoV-2-related partial lockdown. In the residential area, wood combustion increased both BC and PM2.5, but also PN of sub 10 and 23 nm particles. The high concentrations of sub 10 nm particles in all the locations show the importance of the chosen lower size limit of PN measurement, e.g., WHO states that the lower limit should be 10 nm or smaller. Furthermore, due to ultrafine particle emissions, LDSA per unit PM2.5 was 1.4 and 2.4 times higher near the airport than in the city centre and the residential area, respectively, indicating that health effects of PM2.5 depend on urban environment as well as conditions, and emphasizing the importance of PN monitoring in terms of health effects related to local pollution sources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116068
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Airport
  • Biomass burning
  • Human respiratory tract
  • Mobile laboratory
  • Traffic
  • Ultrafine particles

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Environmental Science

Cite this