Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 505–520 | Cite as

Summer-autumn air pollution in León, Spain: changes in aerosol size distribution and expected effects on the respiratory tract

  • F. Oduber
  • A. Castro
  • A.I. Calvo
  • C. Blanco-Alegre
  • E. Alonso-Blanco
  • P. Belmonte
  • R. Fraile


The temporal variation of aerosol size distribution in León, Spain, was analyzed with an optical spectrometer, in order to identify changes associated with the summer-autumn transition. For each hour and day of the week, we have studied the temporal variation of the particle number during the day. As the summer progresses, the total particle number increases from 1000 ± 600 in August to 1500 ± 1000 particles cm−3 in October, mainly due to more intense road traffic after the summer holidays and to the beginning of the new academic year in the study area in September. The particle number was higher on weekdays than on weekends in September and October. However, in August the values were similar, due to lower activity in the city, coinciding with the main holiday period. The aerosol size distributions were bimodal. In the fine mode, both the highest concentration (573 particles cm−3) and the lowest count median diameter (0.08 μm) were recorded in October. The contribution of particles from forest fires and Saharan dust intrusions had a negative impact on the air quality of the city during the summer. Considering the estimated respirable fraction in healthy adults (after the Standard ISO 7708:1995), on weekdays the highest values are obtained between 0600 and 1000 UTC (around 15 μg m−3) and in the afternoon, between 1700 and 2000 UTC (around 12 μg m−3), coinciding with the rush hour.


Aerosol concentration patterns Size distribution Respirable fraction Summer-autumn transition Road traffic Air pollutants 



The authors are grateful to Darrel Baumgardner for his help with the code developed by Bohern and Huffman. F. Oduber acknowledges the grant BES-2015-074473 from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. C. Blanco-Alegre acknowledges the grant FPU16-05764 from the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. Noelia Ramón patiently revised the final version in English. The data from the CALIMA network are property of the Office for Quality and Environmental Evaluation (DGCEA, in its Spanish acronym), belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment. The data were supplied as a result of an agreement between the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment and the Scientific Research Council for sponsoring studies related to air pollution by particulate matter and metals in Spain.

Funding information

This study was partially supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Grant TEC2014-57821-R), the University of León (Programa Propio 2015/00054/001) and the AERORAIN project (Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, Grant CGL2014-52556-R, co-financed with European FEDER funds).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsIMARENAB University of LeónLeónSpain
  2. 2.Centre for Energy, Environment and Technology Research (CIEMAT), Department of the EnvironmentMadridSpain

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