Emissions of Carbonaceous Particulate Matter and Ultrafine Particles from Vehicles-A Scientific Review in a Cross-Cutting Context of Air Pollution and Climate Change
Review article, 2022

Featured Application Key conclusions and recommendations are proposed to enlighten decision makers in view of the next regulations on vehicle emissions in Europe and worldwide through the synergistic contexts of air quality and climate change. Airborne particulate matter (PM) is a pollutant of concern not only because of its adverse effects on human health but also on visibility and the radiative budget of the atmosphere. PM can be considered as a sum of solid/liquid species covering a wide range of particle sizes with diverse chemical composition. Organic aerosols may be emitted (primary organic aerosols, POA), or formed in the atmosphere following reaction of volatile organic compounds (secondary organic aerosols, SOA), but some of these compounds may partition between the gas and aerosol phases depending upon ambient conditions. This review focuses on carbonaceous PM and gaseous precursors emitted by road traffic, including ultrafine particles (UFP) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that are clearly linked to the evolution and formation of carbonaceous species. Clearly, the solid fraction of PM has been reduced during the last two decades, with the implementation of after-treatment systems abating approximately 99% of primary solid particle mass concentrations. However, the role of brown carbon and its radiative effect on climate and the generation of ultrafine particles by nucleation of organic vapour during the dilution of the exhaust remain unclear phenomena and will need further investigation. The increasing role of gasoline vehicles on carbonaceous particle emissions and formation is also highlighted, particularly through the chemical and thermodynamic evolution of organic gases and their propensity to produce particles. The remaining carbon-containing particles from brakes, tyres and road wear will still be a problem even in a future of full electrification of the vehicle fleet. Some key conclusions and recommendations are also proposed to support the decision makers in view of the next regulations on vehicle emissions worldwide.




air quality




black carbon

brown carbon



B. Bessagnet

European Commission (EC)

Nadine Allemand


Jean-Philippe Putaud

European Commission (EC)

Florian Couvidat

Institut National de l'Environnement Industriel et des Risques (INERIS)

Jean-Marc Andre


David Simpson

Norwegian Meteorological Institute

Chalmers, Space, Earth and Environment, Geoscience and Remote Sensing

Enrico Pisoni

European Commission (EC)

Benjamin N. Murphy

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Philippe Thunis

European Commission (EC)

Applied Sciences (Switzerland)

20763417 (eISSN)

Vol. 12 7 3623

Subject Categories

Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences

Other Chemistry Topics

Environmental Sciences



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