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Intensive Characterisation of Atmospheric Aerosols in the north-eastern Romania at various Urban Sites

Final Report Summary - ICAARUS (Intensive characterisation of atmospheric aerosols in the north-eastern Romania at various urban sites)

Despite the existence of a severe legislation in the EU area regarding aerosol coarse and fine fractions atmospheric levels and their role on human health, atmospheric chemistry and climate, no measurements of particulate matter (PM) atmospheric burden and information concerning their chemical composition are reported in the literature for Romania. The main objective of the ICAARUS project was to provide, for the first time to our knowledge, a reasonable estimate of the magnitude, temporal and spatial distribution of the aerosol coarse and fine fractions burden in the ambient air of the north-eastern Romania, Iasi area. The project was split into 3 work-packages covering areas from field measurement and laboratory work on the analysis of particulate phase. Significant achievement has been made in each of these areas during the project.

Major scientific achievements

- Considering the importance of atmospheric aerosols, the obtained data and the performed study may constitute a reference point for Eastern Europe.
- First reports to our knowledge on variation of the ionic composition of the aerosols coarse and fine fractions at Iasi, north-eastern Romania. Large data base generated.
- An important number of measured species both in the coarse and fine fractions: water soluble anions and cations, water aerosols soluble organic nitrogen, organic carbon, elemental carbon.
- Analysis of the data revealed very complex aerosol chemistry in the area (derived by the aerosol chemical composition and meteorology).
- At the investigated site we have identified that large ammonium artifacts may occur due to inter-particle interaction especially under favourable meteorological conditions.
- A methodology for estimating the artifact free ambient ammonium concentration was proposed for filter pack sampling data of deliquesced particles.
- Implications for the aerosol chemistry in the area were made.
- Clear discrimination between the predominance of the anthropogenic tracers in the fine fraction and natural ones in the coarse fraction has been made.


Through the adopted multidisciplinary approach ICAARUS project has been successfully implemented for a three years period. We found that on average, the fine fraction is made of ionic constituents (~20%), organic matter (~65%) and elemental carbon (~15%) . The coarse fraction is predominated by dust (~60%) and ionic constituents (~30%) while organic matter, elemental carbon and sea salt are in total ~10%. We found that about 85% of the elemental carbon/black carbon and 82% of the organic carbon are present in the fine size fraction (with the assumption that we have a fairly constant mass size distribution). Although the present study highlights some of the aspects referring to possible primary and secondary contribution to the aerosols fine and coarse fraction in the north-eastern Romania, more work is clearly needed in order to elucidate also the eventual role played for example by the conversion of semi-volatile organic compounds resulted from the gas-phase oxidation of aerosol precursors, i.e. hydrocarbons, in the atmosphere of the region.

Target groups

The obtained data can be relevant in the framework of other integrated assessments such as calculations of the pollution levels or estimations of the possible risk impact on human health. The research can be also relevant for Romanian Environmental Protection Agencies and Institutes with interest on the atmospheric aerosols burden and their chemical composition. The data from ICAARUS have also a direct bearing on EU policies.

Project Website

Contact details for scientific aspects

Cecilia Arsene, PhD; E-mail:; Phone number: +40-232-201354; Fax: +40-232-201313; Postal address: Cecilia Arsene, Al.I Cuza University of Iasi, Faculty of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, 11 Carol I, 700506 Iasi, Romania.