Assessment of natural components of PM10 at UK urban and rural sites

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Proposals from the European Commission have raised the possibility that Member States may be able to subtract the concentrations of natural components of airborne particulate matter from measured concentrations when evaluating compliance with EU Limit Values. By applying the pragmatic mass closure model [Harrison et al., 2003. A pragmatic mass closure model for airborne particulate matter at urban background and roadside sites. Atmospheric Environment 37, 4927-4933] to chemical composition data for PM10, it has been possible to estimate the concentrations of natural sea salt, strongly bound water and secondary organic carbon (which is assumed wholly biogenic) to the measured mass of PM10. Because of the difficulty in distinguishing between natural and anthropogenic crustal dusts, the contribution of natural windblown dust and soil has not been accounted for. When the natural components are estimated for two urban and one rural site in the UK, the long-term mean PM10 concentration is reduced by between 5.2 and 7.3 mu g m(-3). The number of exceedences of the 50 mu g m(-3) 24-h limit value falls dramatically from 54 to 21 (from a total of 291 days) at an urban street canyon site, 7 to 3 (n = 292 days) at an urban background site and from 8 to 0 (n = 241 days) at a rural site when using gravimetric PM10 concentrations. The calculations have also been performed using PM10 concentrations measured by TEOM increased by a factor of 1.3 as recommended by the European Commission as an interim means of estimating gravimetric equivalency, and the number of exceedences of the 24-h limit value fell from 92 to 47 (from a total of 291 days) at the urban street canyon site, from I I to 3 (n = 292 days) at the urban background site and from 6 to 3 (n = 241) at the rural site. Clearly, therefore, application of this proposed measure would make a very major difference to the likelihood of compliance or other-wise with the 24-h limit value for PM10. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7733-7741
Number of pages9
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006


  • PM10, mass closure, natural components, limit value