Spatial variation of PM2.5, PM10, PM2.5 absorbance and PMcoarse concentrations between and within 20 European study areas and the relationship with NO2 - Results of the ESCAPE project

Marloes Eeftens*, Ming-Yi Tsai, Christophe Ampe, Bernhard Anwander, Rob Beelen, Tom Bellander, Giulia Cesaroni, Marta Cirach, Josef Cyrys, Kees de Hoogh, Audrey De Nazelle, Frank de Vocht, Christophe Declercq, Audrius Dedele, Kirsten Eriksen, Claudia Galassi, Regina Grazuleviciene, Georgios Grivas, Joachim Heinrich, Barbara HoffmannMinas Iakovides, Alex Ineichen, Klea Katsouyanni, Michal Korek, Ursula Kraemer, Thomas Kuhlbusch, Timo Lanki, Christian Madsen, Kees Meliefste, Anna Moelter, Gioia Mosler, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Marieke Oldenwening, Arto Pennanen, Nicole Probst-Hensch, Ulrich Quass, Ole Raaschou-Nielsen, Andrea Ranzi, Euripides Stephanou, Dorothee Sugiri, Orsolya Udvardy, Eva Vaskoevi, Gudrun Weinmayr, Bert Brunekreef, Gerard Hoek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

315 Citations (Scopus)


The ESCAPE study (European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects) investigates relationships between long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution and health using cohort studies across Europe. This paper analyses the spatial variation of PM2.5. PM2.5 absorbance, PM10 and PMcoarse concentrations between and within 20 study areas across Europe.

We measured NO2, NOx, PM2.5. PM2.5 absorbance and PM10 between October 2008 and April 2011 using standardized methods. PMcoarse was determined as the difference between PM10 and PM2.5. In each of the twenty study areas, we selected twenty PM monitoring sites to represent the variability in important air quality predictors, including population density, traffic intensity and altitude. Each site was monitored over three 14-day periods spread over a year, using Harvard impactors. Results for each site were averaged after correcting for temporal variation using data obtained from a reference site, which was operated year-round.

Substantial concentration differences were observed between and within study areas. Concentrations for all components were higher in Southern Europe than in Western and Northern Europe, but the pattern differed per component with the highest average PM2.5 concentrations found in Turin and the highest PMcoarse in Heraklion. Street/urban background concentration ratios for PMcoarse (mean ratio 1.42) were as large as for PM2.5 absorbance (mean ratio 1.38) and higher than those for PM2.5 (1.14) and PM10 (1.23), documenting the importance of non-tailpipe emissions. Correlations between components varied between areas, but were generally high between NO2 and PM2.5 absorbance (average R-2 = 0.80). Correlations between PM2.5 and PMcoarse were lower (average R-2 = 039). Despite high correlations, concentration ratios between components varied, e.g. the NO2/PM2.5 ratio varied between 0.67 and 3.06.

In conclusion, substantial variability was found in spatial patterns of PM2.5, PM2.5 absorbance, PM10 and PMcoarse. The highly standardized measurement of particle concentrations across Europe will contribute to a consistent assessment of health effects across Europe. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-317
Number of pages15
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Traffic
  • PM2.5
  • PM10
  • Coarse particle
  • Soot
  • Spatial variation


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