Anthropogenic and Natural Constituents in PM10 at Urban and Rural Sites in North-Western Europe: Concentrations, Chemical Composition and Sources

  • Ernie WeijersEmail author
  • Martijn Schaap
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 26)


This study focuses on north-western region of Europe discussing questions like the following: Which anthropogenic and natural constituents build up the particulate matter? To what extent do they contribute to the total mass? And where do these constituents originate? To answer, we elaborated data sets containing chemical information of PM recently becoming available in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

The chemical composition of PM10 shows a considerable conformity in these countries. Always, secondary inorganic aerosols (SIA) are the major constituent (±40%) followed by the carbonaceous compounds (±25%). Contributions of sea salt and mineral dust vary between 10% and 15% depending on presence and distance of respective sources. The unidentified mass is some 15% indicating that the composition of PM10 in this region is fairly well known.

PM10 concentrations and constituents appear systematically higher at urban sites. Urban increments have been measured for most chemical constituents. Nearby (anthropogenic) sources and reduced dispersion in the urbanised areas are the main determining factors here. The observed increment for SIA is caused by more nitrate and sulphate. It is explained by depletion of chloride stabilising part of the nitrate and sulphate in the coarse mode. The question then arises how to assign the coarse mode nitrate (and sulphate) in the mass closure exercise as they replace the chloride.

Important for the national and European air pollution policy is how much of the measured particulate matter is of anthropogenic origin. A simple assessment indicates that 20–25% of PM10 is of natural origin; hence, the majority of PM10 in the north-western-European region is of anthropogenic origin. The uncertainty in this analysis is considerable, and the result is indicative.

A chemical transport model (LOTOS-EUROS) was used to obtain a detailed source apportionment. In total, 75% of the modelled PM10 mass could be explained. The important contributions to PM10 come from agriculture, on- and off-road transport and natural sources (sea salt). Secondary contributions are derived from power generation, industrial processes and combustion as well as households. Of the modelled part, 70–80% of PM10 over the Netherlands is anthropogenic. The increase in source contribution going from low to high PM levels is proportional for most sectors, except for agriculture and transport, which become more important mainly due to the more than proportional rise in ammonium nitrate concentrations. Sea-salt concentrations decline with rising PM10. The same was found for Spain, but here, the impact of Saharan dust on PM episodes is clearly recognisable and much larger than in north-western Europe. Natural sources in Spain contribute about half of the modelled PM10 concentrations. Significant anthropogenic sources are similar to those in north-western Europe.


Anthropogenic contribution Chemical composition Chemical transport modelling Natural contribution North-western Europe PM10 Source apportionment Spain 



The use of the “CHEMKAR” data in this study was kindly permitted by the Flemish Environmental Agency [8]. The “BOP” campaign was organised by a consortium of the Dutch research institutes (ECN, TNO and RIVM) within the framework of the second Netherlands Research Programme on Particulate Matter (sponsored by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment I&M). The German air quality campaign (executed by IUTA) was sponsored by the North Rhine-Westphalia State Agency for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection (LANUV) and the North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Environment (MKULNV). The LOTOS-EUROS modelling exercise presented here was partly funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission EnerGEO and by the second Netherlands Research Programme on Particulate Matter.


  1. 1.
    EEA (2007) Air pollution in Europe 1990–2004, EEA report 2/2007, CopenhagenGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Putaud J-P, Raesa F, Van Dingenen R, Bruggemann E, Facchini M, Decesari S, Fuzzi S, Gehrig R, Hueglin C, Laj P, Lorbeer G, Maenhaut W, Mihalopoulos N, Mueller K, Querol X, Rodriguez S, Schneider J, Spindler G, ten Brink H, Torseth K, Wiedensohler A (2004) A European aerosol phenomenology - 2: chemical characteristics of particulate matter at kerbside, urban, rural and background locations in Europe. Atmos Environ 38:2579–2595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Putaud J-P, Van Dingenen R, Alastuey A, Bauer H, Birmili W, Cyrys J, Flentje H, Fuzzi S, Gehrig R, Hansson HC, Harrison RM, Herrmann H, Hitzenberger R, Hüglin C, Jones AM, Kasper-Giebl A, Kiss G, Kousa A, Kuhlbusch TAJ, Löschau G, Maenhaut W, Molnar A, Moreno T, Pekkanen J, Perrino C, Pitz M, Puxbaum H, Querol X, Rodriguez S, Salma I, Schwarz J, Smolik J, Schneider J, Spindler G, ten Brink H, Tursic JJ, Viana M, Wiedensohler A, Raes F (2009) A European aerosol phenomenology - 3: physical and chemical characteristics of particulate matter from 60 rural, urban, and kerbside sites across Europe. Atmos Environ 44:1308–1320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Viana M, Kuhlbusch TAJ, Querol X, Alastuey A, Harrison RM, Hopke PK, Winiwarter W, Vallius M, Szidat S, Prévôt ASH, Hueglin C, Bloemen H, Wåhlin P, Vecchi R, Miranda AI, Kasper-Giebl A, Maenhaut W, Hitzenberger R (2008) Source apportionment of particulate matter in Europe: a review of methods and results. J Aerosol Sci 39:827–849CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Sillanpää M, Hillama R, Saarikoski S, Frey A, Pennanen A, Makkonen U, Spolnik Z, Van Grieken R, Braniš M, Brunekreef B, Chalbot M-C, Kuhlbusch T, Sunyer J, Kerminen V-M, Kulmala M, Salonen RO (2006) Chemical composition and mass closure of particulate matter at six urban sites in Europe. Atmos Environ 40:212–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Salvador P, Artı B, Querol X, Alastuey A, Costoya M (2007) Characterisation of local and external contributions of atmospheric particulate matter at a background coastal site. Atmos Environ 41:1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Mazzei F, D'Alessandro A, Lucarelli F, Nava S, Prati P, Valli G, Vecchi R (2008) Characterization of particulate matter sources in an urban environment. Sci Total Environ 41:81–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    VMM (2009): Chemkar PM10: Chemische karakterisatie van fijn stof in Vlaanderen, 2006–2007. (in Dutch with English summary)
  9. 9.
    PBL, Resultaten op hoofdlijnen en beleidsconsequenties, Beleidsgericht Onderzoeksprogramma Fijn Stof, PBL-rapport 500099013, 2010Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Querol X, Alastuey A, Rodrıguez S, Plana F, Ruiz CR, Cots N, Massague G, Puig O (2001) PM10 and PM2.5 source apportionment in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area, Catalonia, Spain. Atmos Environ 35(36):6407–6419CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Denier van der Gon H, Jozwicka M, Hendriks E, Gondwe M, Schaap M (2010) Mineral dust as a constituent of particulate matter. PBL report 500099003, Bilthoven, the NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Weijers EP, Sahan E, Ten Brink HM, Schaap M, Matthijsen J, Otjes RP, Van Arkel F (2010) Contribution of secondary inorganic aerosols to PM10 and PM2.5 in the Netherlands; measurements and modelling results. PBL Report 500099006, Bilthoven, the NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    ten Brink HM, Weijers E.P, Röckmann T, Dusek U (2010) 14C analysis of filter samples for source apportionment of PM in the Netherlands, ECN Report E--10-005, 2010Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Perez N, Castillo S, Pey J, Alastuey A, Viana M, Querol X (2008) Interpretation of the variability of regional background aerosols in the Western Mediterranean. Sci Total Environ 407:527–540CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Drechsler S, Uhrner U, Lumpp R (2006) Sensitivity of urban and rural ammonium nitrate particulate matter to precursor emissions in Southern Germany. Workshop on Contribution of Natural Sources to PM Levels in Europe, JRC Ispra, 12–13 October 2006Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bates TS, Lamb BK, Guenther A, Dignon J, Stoiber RE (1992) Sulfur emissions to the atmosphere from natural sources. J Atmos Chem 14:315–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Simpson D, Winiwarter W, Börjesson G, Cinderby S, Ferreiro A, Guenther A, Hewitt N, Janson R, Khalil MAK, Owen S, Pierce T, Puxbaum H, Shearer M, Skiba U, Steinbrecher R, Tarrason L, Öquist MG (1999) Inventorying emissions from nature in Europe. J Geophys Res 104:8113–8152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hoelzemann J, Schultz MG, Brasseur GP, Granier C, Simon M (2004) Global wildland fire emission model (GWEM): evaluating the use of global area burnt satellite data. J Geophys Res 109:D14S04CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    van der Hoek KW (1998) Estimating ammonia emission factors in Europe: summary of the work of the UNECE ammonia expert panel. Atmos Environ 32:315–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Erisman JW, Sutton MA, Galloway J, Klimont Z, Winiwarter W (2009) How a century of ammonia synthesis changed the world. Nat Geosci 1:636–639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Schaap M, Spindler G, Schulz M, Acker K, Maenhaut W, Berner A, Wieprecht W, Streit N, Mueller K, Brüggemann E, Putaud J-P, Puxbaum H, Baltensperger U, ten Brink HM (2004) Artefacts in the sampling of nitrate studied in the “INTERCOMP” campaigns of EUROTRAC-AEROSOL. Atmos Environ 38:6487–6496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Simpson D, Yttri KE, Klimont Z, Kupiainen K, Caseiro A, Gelencsér A, Pio CA, Puxbaum H, Legrand M (2007) Modeling carbonaceous aerosol over Europe: analysis of the CARBOSOL and EMEP EC/OC campaigns. J Geophys Res Atmos 112:D23S14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Korcz M, Fudała J, Kliś C (2009) Estimation of windblown dust emissions in Europe and its vicinity. Atmos Environ 43:1410–1420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Schaap M, Manders AMM, Hendriks ECJ, Cnossen JM, Segers AJS, Denier van der Gon HAC, Jozwicka M, Sauter FJ, Velders GJM, Matthijsen J, Builtjes PJH (2009) Regional modelling of particulate matter for the Netherlands, PBL Report 500099006, Bilthoven, the NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kuhlbusch TAJ, John AC, Quass U (2010) Sources and source contributions to fine particles. Biomarkers 14:23–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Schaap M, Kranenburg R, Huibregtse JN, Segers AJA, Hendriks C (2012) Development of a source apportionment module in LOTOS-EUROS. TNO report TNO-060-UT-2012-00161, 2012Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hendriks C, Kranenburg R, Kuenen J, van Gijlswijk R, Denier van der Gon H, Schaap M (2012) The origin of ambient Particulate Matter concentrations in the Netherlands, TNO report 060-UT-2012-00474, Utrecht, the NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Robinson AL, Donahue NM, Shrivastava MK, Weitkamp EA, Sage AM, Grieshop AP, Lane TE, Pierce JR, Pandis SN (2007) Rethinking organic aerosols: semi volatile emissions and photochemical aging. Science 315:1259–1262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Almeida SM, Pio CA, Freitas MC, Reis MA, Trancoso MA (2005) Source apportionment of fine and coarse particulate matter in a sub-urban area at the Western European Coast. Atmos Environ 39:3127–3138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Friedrich R (2007) Improving and applying methods for the calculation of natural and biogenic emissions and assessment of impacts to the air quality. Final project activity report 2007. Accessed March 2011
  31. 31.
    Weijers EP, Schaap M, Nguyen L, Matthijsen J, Denier van der Gon HAC, ten Brink HM, Hoogerbrugge R (2011) Anthropogenic and natural constituents in particulate matter in the Netherlands. Atmos Chem Phys 11:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Quass U, John AC, Kuhlbusch TAJ (2012) Source apportionment of airborne dust in Germany: methods and results. Hdb Env Chem, DOI 10.1007/698_2012_182Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN)PettenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.TNOUtrechtThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations