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Research Reinforcing in the Western Balkans in Offline and Online Monitoring and Source Identification of Atmospheric Particles

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - WeBaSOOP (Research Reinforcing in the Western Balkans in Offline and Online Monitoring and Source Identification of Atmospheric Particles)

Berichtszeitraum: 2022-07-01 bis 2023-09-30

Atmospheric particulate matter (PM) is a pollutant that is of high health importance. It is perhaps the most complex pollutant due to its heterogeneous physical and chemical properties and origin. PM is subject to much research supported by ERIC ACTRIS and by a HE infrastructure project RI-URBANS. In Western Balkan, PM is often above standards set by the legislation, and knowledge of PM sources, composition and mitigation options is limited. In WeBaSOOP, institutions with recognized relevant knowledge and capabilities and with connection to ACTRIS and RI-URBANS team up with the Serbian partners in order to improve scientific excellence of the Serbian partners to the level needed to provide ACTRIS and RI-URBANS -compliant data. The international partners will gain new insights on PM and expand their academic and stakeholder networks, and data from Serbia will be available for the scientific community. WeBaSOOP will leverage the research collaboration by performing source apportionment using novel types of inputs ( including new metrics such as oxidative potential, online and offline PM characterization).
WeBaSOOP main objectives are to:
• Enhance R&I capacity of the participating institutions through short term missions, workshops and training, and stakeholder contacts
• Raising staff research profile by joint publishing, organizing and participation in international conferences
• Raising the institutions’ research profile, by demonstrating new skills and entering new collaboration constellations, including joint development of collaborative research proposals
• Development and implementation of new, interdisciplinary research tools for PM assessment
• Demonstrate ability to provide ACTRIS-compliant data
• Based on these new capabilities, evaluate the possibilities and benefits of developing a National Facility within ACTRIS in Serbia.
A number of automatic monitoring stations are operated in Serbia in framework of state, regional and local monitoring networks. 35 are located in Belgrade Metropolitan (30 under local network operated by the PHIB and 5 under state network operated by SEPA) and 5 in Bor (3 under state network operated by SEPA and 2 local network maintained by ZIJIN). WeBASOOP has selected one site in each city, representative for urban background conditions, and supplemented the routine monitoring by advanced instrumentation for a measuring campaign of at least one year, with the intention to provide sufficient data for an analysis of source contribution at these sites. Such analysis then will be useful to support air quality management efforts in each of these cities. While Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, is affected by a multitude of sources of which vehicular traffic is likely dominant with great contribution of local heating sources during heating season, in Bor, a mining city, the dominant source is likely to be the local copper industry including mining and processing.

In order to achieve the necessary operational and analytical skills needed to run Mobility Particle Size Spectrometer (MPSS), Carbonaceous Aerosol Speciation System and to collect sufficient on-line data and be able to interpret them and then perform chemical and data analyses of the collected samples with reference samplers, the Serbian team has received training in how to operate the instrumentation, and how to perform the necessary chemical analyses including analyses of metals and organic tracers that will allow source identification. Several interlaboratory comparisons were performed organized by international projects (EMEP, RI-URBANS) as well as by the consortium, to ensure good quality of the overall procedures and of results. For several characteristics, the results were very good. In cases where the results were less acceptable, individual training was put in place and new intercomparisons will be organized. Currently, the measuring campaigns are ongoing in both sites, and the team is preparing for analysis of the offline results, and to gain skills needed for analysis of the online data.
Atmospheric aerosol or particulate matter (PM) strongly affects air quality and in turn, human health and also have an important role in the Earth’s climate system. Several emission sources contribute to the observed PM mass concentration levels, typically distinguished into anthropogenic and natural. The chemical composition and structure of mass size distribution patterns may be used as an indicator for the identification of possible aerosol particle emission sources and formation processes.

For further characterization of PM, WeBaSOOP has been implementing off-line sampling that would allow quantification of PM mass (PM10 and PM2.5) ions, metals, organic and elemental carbon, oxidative potential and organic tracers which have only sporadically been performed in Western Balkan previously and can be used to characterize the main PM sources. With online measurements, we will collect information on equivalent black carbon (eBC) and total (TC) and particle numbers size distribution (PNSD) of ultrafine particles. The online instruments have been installed at the site in Belgrade. This configuration will allow us e.g. to distinguish contributions representing fossil or liquid fuel combustion or solid fuel combustion. The combination of these parameters will enable the use of a novel PMF approach where no a-priori knowledge of factors is required, and that will also allow estimation of uncertainties. In this way, we will assess the relevance of the source profiles to human health via comparison to epidemiological data, yielding new site-specific metrics to assess the health risks of ambient aerosol in Belgrade. However, a pre-requisite is data of sufficient quality, which will be ensured by the training procedures and implementation of standard operating procedures based on the current international practice as available in ACTRIS and RI-URBANS.