Ultrafine particles in four European urban environments: Results from a new continuous long-term monitoring network

Jelle Hofman, Jeroen Staelens, Rebecca Cordell, Christoph Stroobants, N. Zikova, Sarkout Hama, Kevin Wyche, Gerard Kos, Saskia Van Der Zee, Kirsty Smallbone, Ernie Weijers, Paul Monks, Edward Roekens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To gain a better understanding on the spatiotemporal variation of ultrafine particles (UFPs) in urban environments, this study reports on the first results of a long-term UFP monitoring network, set up in Amsterdam (NL), Antwerp (BE), Leicester (UK) and London (UK). Total number concentrations and size distributions were assessed during 1e2 years at four fixed urban background sites, supplemented with mobile trailer measurements for co-location monitoring and additional short-term monitoring sites. Intra- and interurban spatiotemporal UFP variation, associations with commonly-monitored pollutants (PM, NOx and BC) and impacts of wind fields were evaluated. Although comparable size distributions were observed between the four cities, source-related differences were demonstrated within specific particle size classes. Total and size-resolved particle number concentrations showed clear traffic-related temporal variation, confirming road traffic as the major UFP contributor in urban environments. New particle formation events were observed in all cities. Correlations with typical traffic-related pollutants (BC and NOx) were obtained for all monitoring stations, except for Amsterdam, which might be attributable to UFP emissions from Schiphol airport. The temporal variation in particle number concentration correlated fairly weakly between the four cities (rs = 0.28 0.50, COD = 0.28 0.37), yet improved significantly inside individual cities (rs = 0.59-0.77). Nevertheless, considerable differences were still obtained in terms of particle numbers (20-38% for total particle numbers and up to 49% for size-resolved particle numbers), confirming the importance of local source contributions and the need for careful consideration when allocating UFP monitoring stations in heterogeneous urban environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-81
Number of pages14
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


  • UFP
  • Urban particle size distribution
  • Amsterdam
  • Antwerp
  • Leicester
  • London


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