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The aim of this work was to compare the variability in an urban area of fine particles (PM2.5), ultrafine particles (UFP) and black carbon (BC) and to evaluate the relationship between each particle metric and potential factors (local traffic, street topography and synoptic meteorology) contributing to the variability. Concentrations of the three particle metrics were quantified using portable monitors through a combination of mobile and static measurements in the city of Edinburgh, UK. The spatial variability of UFP and BC was large, of similar magnitude and about 3 times higher than the spatial variability of PM0.5-2.5 (the PM size fraction actually quantified in this work). Highest inter-daily variability was observed for PM0.5-2.5, which was approximately 2 times higher than inter-daily variability of BC and UFP. Elevated concentrations of UFP and BC were observed along streets with high traffic volumes whereas PM0.5-2.5 showed less variation between streets and a footpath without road traffic. Both BC and UFP were significantly correlated with traffic counts, while no significant correlation between PM0.5-2.5 and traffic counts was observed. BC was significantly correlated with UFP, with significantly different regression slopes between working days and non-working days implying that the increased number of diesel powered heavy goods vehicles during working days contributed more to BC than to UFP. It is concluded that variations in BC and UFP concentrations were mainly determined by the nearby traffic count and varying background concentrations between days, while variation in PM0.5-2.5 concentration was mainly associated with regional sources. These findings imply the need for different policies for managing human exposure to these different particle components: control of much BC and UFP appears to be manageable at local scale by restricting traffic emissions; however, abatement of PM2.5 requires a more strategic approach, in cooperation with other regions and countries on emissions control to curb long-range transport of PM2.5 precursors.
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