The impact of airport activities on air quality, is not sufficiently documented. In order to better understand the magnitude and properly assess the sources of emissions in the sector, it is necessary to establish databases with real data on those pollutants that could have the greatest impact on both health and the environment.Particulate matter (PM), especially ultrafine particles, are a research priority, not only because of its physical properties, but also because of its ability to bind highly toxic compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).Samples of PM were collected in the ambient air around the runways at Barajas International Airport (Madrid, Spain) during October, November and December 2021. Samples were gathered using three different sampling systems and analysed to determine the concentration of PAHs bound to PM. A high-volume air sampler, a Berner low-pressure impactor, and an automated off-line sampler developed in-house were used. The agreement between the samplers was statistically verified from the PM and PAH results.The highest concentration of PM measured was 31 μg m−3, while the concentration of total PAH was 3 ng m−3, both comparable to those recorded in a semi-urban area of Madrid.The PAHs showed a similar profile to the particle size distribution, with a maximum in the 0.27–0.54 μm size range, being preferentially found in the submicron size fractions, with more than 84% and around 15–20% associated to UFPs.It was found that the ratio [PAHs(m)/PM(m)] was around 10–4 in the warmer period (October), whereas it more than doubled in the colder months (November–December). It is significant the shift in the relative distribution of compounds within these two periods, with a notable increase in the 5 and 6 ring proportions in the colder period. This increase was probably due to the additional contribution of other external sources, possibly thermal and related to combustion processes, as supported by the PAH diagnostic ratios.

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