In a study published in Environment International by researchers from King’s College London, ultrafine particles (UFP) have been measured for the first time in European cities, detecting emissions from airports .
The cities analyzed were Barcelona, Helsinki, London and Zurich for a period from 2007 to 2017. London had the highest concentration of UFP compared to other cities .
The highest concentrations of the particles were measured when the wind was blowing from the airport in all cities, suggesting that the airport is a major focus of these particles . The next steps in this research are to evaluate the effects of different sources of ultrafine particles on mortality and hospital admissions.
Traffic emissions were the largest contributors in the four cities, from 71% to 94%. As Gary Fuller , Senior Lecturer in Air Pollution Measurement, explains:
Europe’s cities have policies to reduce airborne particles from traffic that should also reduce people’s exposure to ultrafine particles, but emissions from airplanes are not being addressed in the same way.
Ultrafine particles (UFP) are those smaller particles that by definition have a diameter below 0.1 µm (that is, less than 100 nanometers). Contrary to those particles defined by larger diameters, such as PM2.5 and PM10 (particles with a diameter less than 2.5 and 10 µm, respectively; Figure 1), the UFP are not regulated and, therefore, there is no a threshold that administrations must meet. However, there are several studies that suggest that UFPs could affect health to a greater degree than PM2.5 and PM10.