Elemental composition and reflectance of ambient fine particles at 21 European locations

Thomas Götschi*, Marianne E. Hazenkamp-Von Arx, Joachim Heinrich, Roberto Bono, Peter Burney, Bertil Forsberg, Deborah Jarvis, Jose Maldonado, Dan Norbäck, Willem B. Stern, Jordi Sunyer, Kjell Torén, Giuseppe Verlato, Simona Villani, Nino Künzli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


We sampled fine particles (PM2.5) over a 1-year period at 21 central urban monitoring sites in 20 cities of the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS). Particle filters were then analysed for elemental composition using energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and reflectance (light absorption). Elemental analyses yielded valid results for 15 elements (Al, As, Br, Ca, Cl, Cu, Fe, K, Mn, Pb, S, Si, Ti, V, Zn). Annual and seasonal means of PM2.5, reflectance, and elements show a wide range across Europe with the lowest levels found in Iceland and up to 80 times higher concentrations in Northern Italy. This pattern holds for most of the air pollution indicators. The mass concentration of S did constitute the largest fraction of the analysed elements of PM2.5 in all locations. The crustal component varies from less than 10% up to 25% across these cities. Temporal correlations of daily values vary considerably from city to city, depending on the indicators compared. Nevertheless, correlations between estimates of long-term exposure, such as annual means, are generally high among indicators of PM2.5 from anthropogenic sources, such as S, metals, and reflectance. This highlights the difficulty to disentangle effects of specific sources or PM constituents in future health effect analyses using annual averages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5947-5958
Number of pages12
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work forms part of the ECRHS II project, funded by the European Commission (Quality of Life Programme, Environment and Health Key Action; Project number: QLK4-CT-1999-01237) and by the Swiss Federal Agency for Education and Science (BBW-No. 99.0200). T. Götschi was funded by an EPA STAR Fellowship. N. Künzli, head of the air pollution unit of ECRHS had a Swiss National Science Foundation Advanced Scientist Fellowship (PROSPER 32-048922.96) and is now supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Grant number P30ES07048) and the Hastings Foundation. The Swedish Environment Protection Agency (SNAP Project), the Vlaamse Milieu Maatschappij (Dr. E. Roekens), local authorities and other foundations supported this study with funds and equipment.


  • Air pollution
  • Elements
  • Long-term exposure assessment
  • PM
  • Reflectance


Dive into the research topics of 'Elemental composition and reflectance of ambient fine particles at 21 European locations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this