This paper synthesizes data on aerosol (particulate matter, PM) physical and chemical characteristics, which were obtained over the past decade in aerosol research and monitoring activities at more than 60 natural background, rural, near-city, urban, and kerbside sites across Europe. The data include simultaneously measured PM10 and/or PM2.5 mass on the one hand, and aerosol particle number concentrations or PM chemistry on the other hand. The aerosol data presented in our previous works (Van Dingenen et al., 2004; Putaud et al., 2004) were updated and merged to those collected in the framework of the EU supported European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical action COST633 (Particulate matter: Properties related to health effects). A number of conclusions from our previous studies were confirmed. There is no single ratio between PM2.5 and PM10 mass concentrations valid for all sites, although fairly constant ratios ranging from 0.5 to 0.9 are observed at most individual sites. There is no general correlation between PM mass and particle number concentrations, although particle number concentrations increase with PM2.5 levels at most sites. The main constituents of both PM10 and PM2.5 are generally organic matter, sulfate and nitrate. Mineral dust can also be a major constituent of PM10 at kerbside sites and in Southern Europe. There is a clear decreasing gradient in SO42- and NO3- contribution to PM10 when moving from rural to urban to kerbside sites. In contrast, the total carbon/PM10 ratio increases from rural to kerbside sites. Some new conclusions were also drawn from this work: the ratio between ultrafine particle and total particle number concentration decreases with PM2.5 concentration at all sites but one, and significant gradients in PM chemistry are observed when moving from Northwestern, to Southern to Central Europe. Compiling an even larger number of data sets would have further increased the significance of our conclusions, but collecting all the aerosol data sets obtained also through research projects remains a tedious task. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Chemical composition
- Number concentration