Atmospheric nanoparticles can be formed either via nucleation in atmosphere or be directly emitted to the atmosphere. In urban areas, several combustion sources (engines, biomass burning, power generation plants) are directly emitting nanoparticles to the atmosphere and, in addition, the gaseous emissions from the same sources can participate to atmospheric nanoparticle formation. This article focuses on the sources and formation of nanoparticles in traffic-influenced environments and reviews current knowledge on composition and characteristics of these nanoparticles. In general, elevated number concentrations of nanoparticles are very typically observed in traffic-influenced environments. Traffic related nanoparticles can originate from combustion process or from non-exhaust related sources such as brake wear. Particles originating from combustion process can be divided to three different sources; 1) primary nanoparticles formed in high temperature, 2) delayed primary particles formed as gaseous compounds nucleate during the cooling and dilution process and 3) secondary nanoparticles formed from gaseous precursors via the atmospheric photochemistry. The nanoparticles observed in roadside environment are a complex mixture of particles from several sources affected by atmospheric processing, local co-pollutants and meteorology.
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