Fine particles play a key role in regional air quality deterioration. Commonly used central-site monitoring data, which offer rough determinations of spatial particulate matter (PM) distributions, is insufficient to estimate potential local emissions or population exposure levels. This study characterizes the spatial variability of fine particles in suburban and rural regions during and after a winter episode of elevated PM (PM episode). Commercial instruments of high time resolution in a mobile laboratory platform were deployed to measure the distribution, number, surface area, and mass concentrations of fine particles. Spatial variations of those particle properties were mainly affected by regional feature, PM episode, local primary source and wind speed. Particle concentrations and size distributions were found to differ considerably during and after PM episode. The PM episode was found to exhibit a lower degree of spatial concentration contrast with respect to particle number, surface area and mass, where similar particle size patterns were distributed across all study regions with decreased particle number under nucleation and Aitken modes and increased number under the accumulation mode. The mobile measurement may supplement information on spatial particle distributions for estimating levels of population exposure and for characterizing detailed physical properties of short-term, high-exposed scenarios.
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