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Chemosphere. 2015 Jan;119:769-777. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.07.097. Epub 2014 Sep 6.

Urban NH3 levels and sources in six major Spanish cities.

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Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDÆA-CSIC), Barcelona, Spain. Electronic address:
Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDÆA-CSIC), Barcelona, Spain.
Department of Environment, CIEMAT, Joint Research Unit to CSIC-CIEMAT "Atmospheric Pollution", Madrid, Spain.
Development and Applications Department, AEMET, Madrid, Spain.
Faculty of Sciences, University of A Coruña, A Coruña, Spain.
Izaña Atmospheric Research Centre, AEMET, Joint Research Unit to CSIC 'Studies on Atmospheric Pollution', Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.
Associate Unit CSIC-University of Huelva "Atmospheric Pollution", Centre of Research of Sustainable Chemistry (CIQSO), Campus of Excellence CEIA, University of Huelva, Huelva, Spain.
Fundación Centro de Estudios Ambientales del Mediterráneo (CEAM), Joint Research Unit to CSIC, Parque Tecnologico, Valencia, Spain.
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0QB, UK.


A detailed spatial and temporal assessment of urban NH3 levels and potential emission sources was made with passive samplers in six major Spanish cities (Barcelona, Madrid, A Coruña, Huelva, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Valencia). Measurements were conducted during two different periods (winter-autumn and spring-summer) in each city. Barcelona showed the clearest spatial pattern, with the highest concentrations in the old city centre, an area characterised by a high population density and a dense urban architecture. The variability in NH3 concentrations did not follow a common seasonal pattern across the different cities. The relationship of urban NH3 with SO2 and NOX allowed concluding on the causes responsible for the variations in NH3 levels between measurement periods observed in Barcelona, Huelva and Madrid. However, the factors governing the variations in A Coruña, Valencia and Santa Cruz de Tenerife are still not fully understood. This study identified a broad variability in NH3 concentrations at the city-scale, and it confirms that NH3 sources in Spanish urban environments are vehicular traffic, biological sources (e.g. garbage containers), wastewater treatment plants, solid waste treatment plants and industry. The importance of NH3 monitoring in urban environments relies on its role as a precursor of secondary inorganic species and therefore PMX. Further research should be addressed in order to establish criteria to develop and implement mitigation strategies for cities, and to include urban NH3 sources in the emission inventories.


Ammonia; Reactive nitrogen; SIA; Spain; Urban sources

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