6.4. Suspended particulates (TSP/SPM)

6.4.1. Behaviour, effects, emissions

Particulate matter

Airborne particulate matter represents a complex mixture of organic and inorganic substances, covering a wide range of diameters, from <0.1 µm and up to some 100 µm. Mass and composition tend to divide into two principal groups: coarse particles larger than 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter, and fine particles smaller than 2.5 µm in aerodynamic diameter. The smaller particles contain the secondarily formed aerosols (gas to particle conversion), combustion particles and recondensed organic and metal vapours. The bulk of fine particulate mass comprise particles of diameter range 0.1-0.5 µm. The larger particles usually contain earth Crystal materials and fugitive dust from roads and industries. The acid component of particulate matter, and most of its mutagenic activity, is generally contained in the fine fraction, although in fog some coarse acid droplets are also present.

Important parts of the "secondary aerosol" are sulphate particles (important for acid deposition and visibility reduction on the regional scale), and organics-containing particles as a result of photochemical reactions (important in large urban areas with photochemical pollution).

"Suspended particulate matter" is measured and characterised in various ways:

  • Total Suspended Particles is the fraction sampled with high-volume samplers, approximately particle diameters <50-100 µm.
  • PM10: Inhalable particles, diameter <10 µm. Penetrates through the nose, by nose breathing.
  • Thoracic particles: approx. equal PM10.
  • PM2.5: "Fine fraction", diameter <2.5 µm. Penetrates to the lungs.
  • Black smoke: a measure of the blackness of a particle sample, sampled on a white filter paper, transformed to a mass value (µg/m3) for the particle sample by means of a standard curve. Gives a relative value for the soot content of the sample.

Major sources of primary particles are industrial processes, road traffic, power plants, domestic burning (coal, wood, etc.), incineration, and resuspension of road and construction dust. Particulate matter is removed from the atmosphere by wet and dry deposition.

Short term health effects of exposure to combined SO2, black smoke and particulates include increased mortality, morbidity and deficits in pulmonary function. Some of the "lowest-observed effect" levels for short term exposure to particulate matter are: excess mortality ~500 µg/m3 (smoke); increased acute respiratory morbidity (adults) ~250 µg/m3 (smoke); decrements in lung function (children) ~180 µg/m3 (total suspended particulates)/110 µg/m3 (thoracic particles). Smoke levels of up to 1,500 µg/m3 occurred in the 1952 London smog.

Other environmental effects include the soiling of exposed surfaces, impairment of visibility, potential modification of climate and contribution to acid deposition.

6.4.2. Air Quality Limit and Guide Values

EU Limit values for suspended particulates are given in Table 6.14.

Table 6.14: EU Limit values for suspended particulates (gravimetric method) (µg/m3).
EU Council Directive 80/779/EEC.


Limit Values Mean of 24h values 95 percentile of 24h values
Year 150 300

WHO Guideline values for combined exposure to SO2 and particulate matter are given in Table 6.10 in section 6.3.2. These values are 24h maximum values of 120 µg/m3 TSP and 70 µg/m3 TP (Thoracic particles » PM10).

6.4.3. Urban and local TSP/SPM concentrations


In Appendix B TSP/SPM data from 14 countries are given. The stations are ranged according to the 95 percentile daily values. The stations with the highest values are given in Table 6.15. Also the maximum and mean values are given, if available.

Table 6.15 and Figure 6.41 show the highest TSP/SPM levels in Southern and Eastern Europe. In Western Europe concentrations are low and do not vary so much from country to country, except for higher values in some German cities.

Data from the selected cities in Figure 5.1/Table 5.2 are shown in Figure 6.42-Figure 6.44. These figures give the mean, 95 percentile and maximum values based on 24h values.

Table 6.15: 24 h maximum, 95 percentile and mean SPM values for 1993 for European cities ranged according to the 95 percentile values (µg/m3).

Figure 6.41: 24 h maximum, 95 percentile and mean TSP/SPM values for 1993 for selected stations and cities (µg/m3).

Figure 6.42: SPM mean values in selected cities (µg/m3).

Figure 6.43: SPM 95 percentile values based on 24h values in selected cities (µg/m3).

Figure 6.44: SPM maximum 24h values in selected cities (µg/m3).


Table 6.16 shows stations with exceedances of EU Limit values for TSP/SPM (mean 150 µg/m3 , and 95 percentile 300 µg/m3 , 24h values). These values are very high compared to the WHO Guideline values. EU Limit values are exceeded at stations in Italy and Portugal.

Table 6.17 show exceedances of WHO Guideline values for PM10 and SPM. The SPM maximum 24h value are exceeded in many countries. Especially high values are measured in the Czech Republic and Portugal.

UK has reported exceedances of the WHO PM10 Guideline value in major cities. PM10 is not commonly measured in Europe yet. The WHO Guideline value of
70 µg/m3 for 24h will obviously be exceeded in many countries and cities all over Europe. The main mass fraction of particulate matter is in the <10 µm-fraction. These particles are most relevant to health effects.

Table 6.16: Exceedances of EU Limit Values for SPM.






Station name

24 h values
1 year 1 year
Mean >150 P95 >300
Italy Genova Rimessa Amt 170** 336**
  Torino Strada Aeroporto 268 321
Portugal Alhandra CN. Cimpor   300
  Barreiro/Seixal Escavadeira   319
    Paio Pires 196 405
  Carregado RDP   327
    Faiel 163 416

** Data availability <75%.

Table 6.17: Exceedances of WHO Guideline Values for PM10/SPM.







WHO Guideline Values
Max. 24h >70 Max. 24h >120
Austria Graz Mitte   201
    Nord   187
    Ost   164
    Süd   211
    Süd West   252
    West   209
  Innsbruck Olympisches Dorf   164
    Reichenau   174
  Klagenfurt Koschatstrasse   136
  Linz 24-er-Turm   384
    Berufschulzentrum   233
    BH-Urfahr   301
    Hauserhof   237
    Kleinmünchen   191
    ORF-Zentrum   226
    Ursulinenhof   263
  Salzburg Itzlingen   140
    Rudolfplatz   182
  Villach Villach   159
  Wien Belgradplatz   390
    Floridsdorf   240
    Hietzinger Kai   141
    Hohe Warte   250
    Kaiserebersdorf   210
    Kendlerstr.   240
    Laaer Berg   320
    Stadlau   231
    Stephansplatz   134
    Taborstr.   297
    Wäringer Gürtel   179
Czech Republic Ostrava Ostrava NH   522
    Ostrava-Domovduch   709
    Ostrava-Fifejdy   683
    Ostrava-Poruba   511
    Ostrava-Slez.Ostrava   506
  Prague Kobylisy   605
    Mlynárka   485
    Námesti Republiky   455
    Pocernicka   478
    Riegrovy sady   455
    Santinka   603
    Veleslavin   588
    Vysocany   626
    Výstavište   466

Table 6.17 (contd.)







WHO Guideline Values
Max. 24h >70 Max. 24h >120
Denmark Aalborg Vesterbro   224
  Copenhagen Jagtvej   252
  Odense 9154   248
    9155 Albanigade   212
Finland Espoo Luukki   147
  Helsinki Vallila   240
Germany Berlin Charlottenburg   255
    Frankfurter Tor   305
    Neuköllen   228
    Schöneberg   192
    Wedding   283
  Brandenburg Brandenburg-Zentrum   225
  Cottbus Cottbus-City   199
    Cottbus-Süd   217
  Dortmund Dortmund-Asseln   133
    Dortmund-Hörde   180
    Dortmund-Mitte   278
  Duisburg Duisburg-Buchholz   183
    Duisburg-Kaldenhausen   231
    Duisburg-Meidenich   285
    Duisburg-Walsum   330
  Düsseldorf Düsseldorf-Einbrungen   153
    Düsseldorf-Genresheim   181
    Düsseldorf-Lörick   184
    Düsseldorf-Mörsenbroich   158
    Düsseldorf-Reisholz   187
  Essen Essen-Altendorf   298
    Essen-Bredeney   183
    Essen-Leithe   191
    Essen-Ost   239
    Essen-Vogelheim   423
  Halle Halle   232
  Hamburg 06 LO, Lokstedt   155
    09 RA, Rahlstedt   161
    11 HO, Hochkamp   164
    12 BA, Bahrenfeld   165
    13 ST, Sternschanze   164
    14 LS, Lübecker Strasse   175
    15 HR, Horner Rennbahn   146
    18 WA, Waltershof   196
    19 SW, Steinwerder   177
    20 VE. Veddel   185
    21 BI, Billbrook   158
    26 KI, Kirchdorf   164
    27 TA, Tatenberg   137
    30 GT, Göhlbochtal   146

Table 6.17 (contd.)







WHO Guideline Values
Max. 24h >70 Max. 24h >120
Germany (contd.) Köln Köln-Chorweiler   157
    Köln-Riehl   142
    Köln-Rodenkirchen   131
    Köln-Vogelsang   140
  Magdeburg Magdeburg   166
  München Effnerplatz   148
    Johanneskirchen   171
    L.Kiesselbach-Platz   155
    Lothstrasse   185
    Pasing   153
    Stachus   162
  Nürnberg Mögeldorf   122
    Olgastrasse   177
    Willy Brandt Platz   152
  Rostock Rostock-Holbein Platz   151
  Saarbrücken Saarbrücken-Stadtmitte   144
  Schwerin Schwerin (Burmeister-Bade-Platz)   239
    Schwerin-UBA   146
Portugal Alhandra CN. Cimpor   600
    Escusa   284
    Marquesa   241
    Pisc. Cimpor   287
    S. Martins   401
  Area Sines EDP/Sul   271
  Barreiro/Seixal Arrentela   201
    Camara Municipal   261
    Casal do Marco   272
    Escavadeira   360
    Paio Pires   479
    Seixal   330
    Siderurgia   460
  Carregado Cast. Ribatejo   136
    Faiel   495
    Ironfer   360
    RDP   523
    TAK   536
    Vinha   231
  Lisboa Entrecampos   210
  Pego Mouriscas   166
  Setúbal Movauto   333
    S. Filipe   318
    Setenave   301
    Subestacao   358
    Tróia   248
Slovakia Bratislava Karmenné námestic   185
    Marmateyova   213
    Trnavské mýto   181
  Košice Štúrova   257

Table 6.17 (contd.)







WHO Guideline Values
Max. 24h >70 Max. 24h >120
Spain Barcelona Molina Pl.   174
    Moncada   316
    Poblé nov.   167
  Madrid Carlos V   202
    Cuatro Caminos   174
    Plaza Castilla   166
    Plaza España   165
    Villaverde   151
United Kingdom Belfast Belfast centre 120  
  Birmingham Birmingham centre 102  
  Bristol Bristol centre 81  
  Cardiff Cardiff centre 89  
  Leeds Leeds centre 96  
  Liverpool Liverpool centre 163  
  London London Bloomsbury 100  
  Newcastle Newcastle centre 79  


Figure 6.45-Figure 6.48 show trends in TSP/SPM data on an annual basis for selected stations in different countries. The figures are not quite comparable because different parameters are given. The figures from Aalborg and Madrid (from APIS) do not give the 95 percentile, which is requested by the EU Council Directive, but instead the 98 percentile. German and Swiss data are taken from national reports. Mean values from the Ruhr area, Düsseldorf and Köln/Bonn are mean values from several stations in several cities.

German and Swiss data show a slight decrease in TSP/SPM mean values over the last 10-20 years. In Aalborg, Denmark maximum and 98 percentile values are more reduced than mean values.

Figure 6.45: TSP/SPM trend in Aalborg, Denmark 1982-1994 and Madrid, Spain 1986-1993 (µg/m3). APIS data.

Figure 6.46: TSP/SPM in Bremen, Germany 1987-1993 (µg/m3). Data from Bremen State report.

Figure 6.47: TSP/SPM trend in Switzerland 1984-1993 (µg/m3). Data from national report.

Figure 6.48: TSP/SPM trend in Nordrhein/Westfalen 1974-1993 (µg/m3). Mean values for several stations and cities from Nordrhein/Westfalen State report.

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