Variation of NO2 and NOx concentrations between and within 36 European study areas: Results from the ESCAPE study

Josef Cyrys*, Marloes Eeftens, Joachim Heinrich, Christophe Ampe, Alexandre Armengaud, Rob Beelen, Tom Bellander, Timea Beregszaszi, Matthias Birk, Giulia Cesaroni, Marta Cirach, Kees de Hoogh, Audrey De Nazelle, Frank de Vocht, Christophe Declercq, Audrius Dedele, Konstantina Dimakopoulou, Kirsten Eriksen, Claudia Galassir, Regina GraulevicieneGeorgios Grivas, Olena Gruzieva, Annika Hagenbjork Gustafsson, Barbara Hoffmann, Minas Iakovides, Alex Ineichen, Ursula Kramer, Timo Lanki, Patricia Lozano, Christian Madsen, Kees Meliefste, Lars Modig, Anna Moelter, Gioia Mosler, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Michael Nonnemacher, Marieke Oldenwening, Annette Peters, Sabrina Pontet, Nicole Probst-Hensch, Ulrich Quass, Ole Raaschou-Nielsen, Andrea Ranzi, Dorothee Sugiri, Euripides G. Stephanou, Pekka Taimisto, Ming-Yi Tsai, Eva Vaskovi, Simona Villani, Meng Wang, Bert Brunekreef, Gerard Hoek

*Corresponding author for this work

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

221 Citations (Scopus)


The ESCAPE study (European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects) investigates long-term effects of exposure to air pollution on human health in Europe. This paper documents the spatial variation of measured NO2 and NOx concentrations between and within 36 ESCAPE study areas across Europe.

In all study areas NO2 and NOx were measured using standardized methods between October 2008 and April 2011. On average, 41 sites were selected per study area, including regional and urban background as well as street sites. The measurements were conducted in three different seasons, using Ogawa badges. Average concentrations for each site were calculated after adjustment for temporal variation using data obtained from a routine monitor background site.

Substantial spatial variability was found in NO2 and NOx concentrations between and within study areas; 40% of the overall NO2 variance was attributable to the variability between study areas and 60% to variability within study areas. The corresponding values for NOx were 30% and 70%. The within-area spatial variability was mostly determined by differences between street and urban background concentrations. The street/urban background concentration ratio for NO2 varied between 1.09 and 3.16 across areas. The highest median concentrations were observed in Southern Europe, the lowest in Northern Europe.

In conclusion, we found significant contrasts in annual average NO2 and NOx concentrations between and especially within 36 study areas across Europe. Epidemiological long-term studies should therefore consider different approaches for better characterization of the intra-urban contrasts, either by increasing of the number of monitors or by modelling. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-390
Number of pages17
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Air pollution
  • Long term
  • Traffic
  • Spatial variation
  • NOx
  • NO2
  • ESCAPE study
  • FINE


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