Vertical Variation of PM2.5 Mass and Chemical Composition, Particle Size Distribution, NO2, and BTEX at a High Rise Building

Stefano Zauli Sajani, Stefano Marchesi, Arianna Trentini, Dimitri Bacco, Claudia Zigola, Sabrina Rovelli, Isabella Ricciardelli, Claudio Maccone, Paolo Lauriola, Domenico Maria Cavallo, Vanes Poluzzi, Andrea Cattaneo, Roy Harrison

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20 Citations (Scopus)
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Substantial efforts have been made in recent years to investigate the horizontal variability of air pollutants at regional and urban scales and epidemiological studies have taken advantage of resulting improvements in exposure assessment. On the contrary, only a few studies have investigated the vertical variability and their results are not consistent. In this study, a field experiment has been conducted to evaluate the variation of concentrations of different particle metrics and gaseous pollutants on the basis of floor height at a high rise building. Two 15-day monitoring campaigns were conducted in the urban area of Bologna, Northern Italy, one of the most polluted areas in Europe. Measurements sites were operated simultaneously at 2, 15, 26, 44 and 65 m a.g.l. Several particulate matter metrics including PM2.5 mass and chemical composition, particle number concentration and size distribution were measured. Time integrated measurement of NO2 and BTEX were also included in the monitoring campaigns. Measurements showed relevant vertical gradients for most traffic related pollutants. A monotonic gradient of PM2.5 was found with ground-to-top differences of 4% during the warm period and 11% during the cold period. Larger gradients were found for UFP (~30% during both seasons) with a substantial loss of particles from ground to top in the sub-50 nm size range. The largest drops in concentrations for chemical components were found for Elemental Carbon (-27%), iron (-11%) and tin (-36%) during winter. The ground-to-top decline of concentrations for NO2 and benzene during winter was equal to 74% and 35%, respectively. In conclusion, our findings emphasize the need to include vertical variations of urban air pollutants when evaluating population exposure and associated health effects, especially in relation to some traffic related pollutants and particle metrics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-349
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Early online date4 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • PM2.5
  • Size distribution
  • Chemical composition
  • Exposure
  • Vertical variability


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