Fine structure of mass size distributions in an urban environment

Imre Salma, Rita Ocskay, Nico Raes, Willy Maenhaut

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44 Citations (Scopus)


As part of an urban aerosol research project, aerosol samples were collected by a small deposit area low-pressure impactor and a micro-orifice uniform deposit impactor in downtown Budapest in spring 2002. A total number of 23 samples were obtained with each device for separate daytime periods and nights. The samples were analysed by particle-induced X-ray emission spectrometry for 29 elements, or by gravimetry for particulate mass. The raw size distribution data were processed by the inversion program MICRON utilising the calibrated collection efficiency curve for each impactor stage in order to study the mass size distributions in the size range of about 50 nm to 10 μm in detail. Concentration, geometric mean aerodynamic diameter, and geometric standard deviation for each contributing mode were determined and further evaluated. For the crustal elements, two modes were identified in the mass size distributions: a major coarse mode and a (so-called) intermediate mode, which contained about 4% of the elemental mass. The coarse mode was associated with suspension, resuspension, and abrasion processes, whereby the major contribution likely came from road dust, while the particles of the intermediate mode may have originated from the same but also from the other sources. The typical anthropogenic elements exhibited usually trimodal size distributions including a coarse mode and two submicrometer modes instead of a single accumulation mode. The mode diameter of the upper submicrometer mode was somewhat lower for the particulate mass (PM) and S than for the anthropogenic metals, suggesting different sources and/or source processes. The different relative intensities of the two submicrometer modes for the anthropogenic elements and the PM indicate that the elements and PM have multiple sources. An Aitken mode was unambiguously observed for S, Zn, and K, but in a few cases only. The relatively large coarse mode of Cu and Zn, and the small night-to-daytime period concentration ratio pointed to anthropogenic sources by disintegration, which were related to vehicular traffic, i.e., mechanical wear of brake linings and tires, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5363-5374
Number of pages12
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2005


  • Cascade impactor
  • Element
  • Inversion
  • Modal parameters
  • PM
  • Size distribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science

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