Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 1613-1651, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed
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The effects of vehicle emissions and nucleation events on vertical particle concentration profiles around urban office buildings
T. N. Quang, C. He, L. Morawska, L. D. Knibbs, and M. Falk
International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia

Abstract. Despite its role in determining both indoor and outdoor human exposure to anthropogenic particles, there is limited information describing vertical profiles of particle concentrations in urban environments, especially for ultrafine particles. Furthermore, the results of the few studies performed have been inconsistent. As such this study aimed to assess the influence of vehicle emissions and nucleation formation on particle concentrations (PN and PM2.5) at different heights around three urban office buildings located next to busy roads in Brisbane, Australia, and place these results in the broader context of the existing literature. Two sets of instruments were used to simultaneously measure PN size distribution, PN and PM2.5 concentrations, respectively, for up to three weeks each at three office buildings.

The results showed that both PN and PM2.5 concentrations around building envelope were influenced by vehicle emissions and new particle formation, and that they exhibited variability across the three different office buildings. During the nucleation event, PN concentrations increased (21–46%), while PM2.5 concentrations decreased (36–52%) with height at all three buildings.

This study has shown an underappreciated role of nucleation in producing particles that can affect large numbers of people, due to the high density and occupancy of urban office buildings and the fact that the vast majority of people's time is spent indoors. These findings highlight important new information related to the previously overlooked role of particle formation in the urban atmosphere and its potential effects on selection of air intake locations and appropriate filter types when designing or upgrading mechanical ventilation systems in urban office buildings. The results also serve to better define particle behaviour and variability around building envelopes, which has implications for studies of both human exposure and particle dynamics.

Citation: Quang, T. N., He, C., Morawska, L., Knibbs, L. D., and Falk, M.: The effects of vehicle emissions and nucleation events on vertical particle concentration profiles around urban office buildings, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 12, 1613-1651, doi:10.5194/acpd-12-1613-2012, 2012.
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