New particle formation (NPF) events occur almost everywhere in the world and can play an important role as a particle source. The frequency and characteristics of NPF events vary spatially, and this variability is yet to be fully understood. In the present study, long-term particle size distribution datasets (minimum of 3 years) from 13 sites of various land uses and climates from across Europe were studied, and NPF events, deriving from secondary formation and not traffic-related nucleation, were extracted and analysed. The frequency of NPF events was consistently found to be higher at rural background sites, while the growth and formation rates of newly formed particles were higher at roadsides (though in many cases differences between the sites were small), underlining the importance of the abundance of condensable compounds of anthropogenic origin found there. The growth rate was higher in summer at all rural background sites studied. The urban background sites presented the highest uncertainty due to greater variability compared to the other two types of site. The origin of incoming air masses and the specific conditions associated with them greatly affect
the characteristics of NPF events. In general, cleaner air masses present higher probability for NPF events, while the more polluted ones show higher growth rates. However, different patterns of NPF events were found, even at sites in close proximity (<200 km), due to the different local conditions at each site. Region-wide events were also studied and were found to be associated with the same conditions as local events, although some variability was found which was associated with the different seasonality of the events at two neighbouring sites. NPF events were responsible for an increase in the number concentration of ultrafine particles of more than 400% at rural background sites on the day of their occurrence. The degree of enhancement was less at urban sites due to the increased contribution of other sources within the urban environment. It is evident that, while some variables (such as solar radiation intensity, relative humidity, or the concentrations of specific pollutants) appear to have a similar influence on NPF events across all sites, it is impossible to predict the characteristics of NPF events at a site using just these variables, due to the crucial role of local conditions.
The ACERCA study was sponsored by the Spanish Society of Nephrology (S.E.N.) with an unrestricted grant from Roche Pharma Spain. AMC declare that has received research support from Amgen, Abbott, Boehringer-Ingelheim and Roche, as well as honoraria for participating in advisory boards from Abbvie, Amgen, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Esteve, Janssen-Cilag, Novartis and Roche. AC has received research support from Amgen and Roche. He has received honoraria for participating in advisory boards from Roche, Amgen, Pfizer, Novartis, Abbott, Astra-Zeneca and received speaker fees from Roche, Amgen, Johnson and Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, Novartis, Pfizer, Almirall, Esteve, Astra-Zeneca, Siemens. Others authors declare that they have no competing interests.
© Author(s) 2021.