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News article16 November 2020

New Certified Reference Material for analysis of airborne particulate matter

CRM for analysis of airborne particulate matter
CRM for analysis of airborne particulate matter
© hramovnick AdobeStock

The JRC just released a new Certified Reference Material simulating airborne particulate matter (PM2.5). It was made from road tunnel dust and is now available for laboratories analysing the composition of airborne particulate matter, for air quality monitoring as required in EU legislation.

Airborne particulate matter is a major problem in many densely populated areas of the world. This pollutant is a mixture of particles of different size and composition coming from different sources. The finest fraction of these particles, the so-called PM2,5, is notoriously dangerous because it can penetrate deep into the lungs and may pass into the bloodstream causing respiratory problems and premature death.

In response, the European Union has developed extensive legislation setting up health based standards and objectives for a number of pollutants including PM2,5.

The Ambient Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC, in particular, also requires EU Member States to make additional measurements on the chemical composition of PM2,5.

The measurements include:

  • water-soluble ions (Na+, K+, Ca2+, Mg2+, NH4+, Cl, NO3- and SO42–)
  • elemental carbon (EC)
  • organic carbon (OC).

The European Committee of Standardization has recently developed standard methods for the measurements of water-soluble ions as well as for OC and EC in PM2,5 (EN 16913:2017 and EN 16909:2017, respectively).

Certified Reference Materials can be used to ensure accurate and comparable measurement results.

For this reason, the new certified reference material ERM®-CZ110 was developed.It will support EU Member States and air quality laboratories to comply with the EU legislation for water-soluble ions measurements.

ERM-CZ110 was produced from road tunnel dust that was sieved, milled and processed in an innovative way in order to reach the size and composition of real environmental PM2,5 (Charoud-Got et al. Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 2017 (409) 7121–7131). Commutability was assessed by comparison of ERM-CZ110 with real environmental PM2,5 samples collected on filters to verify that it behaves like real samples.

ERM-CZ110 is available from the JRC as well as from its authorised distributors.

A full report on the production and certification of ERM-CZ110 is available through the JRC online catalogue:

Related Content


Certified Reference Materials catalogue of the JRC


Publication date
16 November 2020