Ultrafine particles in inhabited areas in the Arctic - From very low to high concentrations

Una Pétursdóttir, Gunvor Marie Kirkelund, Kåre Press-Kristensen, Ole Hertel, Teis Nørgaard Mikkelsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    The Arctic is considered a pristine environment, where pollution mainly originates from global sources. The present study examines particle number concentrations (PNCs) and the main sources of airborne ultrafine particles (UFPs, d < 100 nm) in the town Sisimiut and two nearby settlements, Sarfannguit and Itilleq, in West Greenland. Measurements were carried out during three weeks in April and May 2016. Air temperatures during the measurements ranged from −4.4 to +8.7 °C. A portable condensation particle counter (P-Trak) was used for the measurements. Results showed that the lowest concentrations were found during days with high wind speeds, with the lowest PNC average of 72 ± 11 cm−3 (n = 9) (12 m/s). Background concentrations were usually low compared to more densely populated countries, with a couple of exceptions, where there was no clear cause for elevated PNCs in a background area East of Sisimiut. Measured PNCs in the flue gas in the waste incineration plant in Sisimiut showed up to 334,976 cm−3 and are expected to be higher in the gas after it is released through the chimney. Average PNCs up to 77,009 ± 43,880 cm−3 (n = 26) were measured by a road located by the harbor in Sisimiut, while subsequent measurements at the same location showed much lower PNCs. The presence of heavy machinery elevated PNCs highly during two measurement events, giving PNCs up to 270,993 cm−3 but dropping to 1180 cm−3 10 min later, after the vehicle had passed by. A measurement event in Sisimiut Airport while an aircraft landed and departed showed an average PNC of 44,741 ± 85,094 cm−3 (n = 21). Two 24-h measurements resulted in average PNCs of 2960 ± 5704 cm−3 and 3935 ± 10,016 cm−3 respectively.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAtmospheric Pollution Research
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)299-308
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    • Air pollution
    • Air quality
    • Diesel emissions
    • Greenland
    • UFP


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