Commuters’ Exposure to Particulate Matter Air Pollution Is Affected by Mode of Transport, Fuel Type, and Route

Public Health Services Gelderland Midden, Arnhem, the Netherlands.
Environmental Health Perspectives (Impact Factor: 7.03). 02/2010; 118(6):783-9. DOI: 10.1289/ehp.0901622
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Commuters are exposed to high concentrations of air pollutants, but little quantitative information is currently available on differences in exposure between different modes of transport, routes, and fuel types.
The aim of our study was to assess differences in commuters' exposure to traffic-related air pollution related to transport mode, route, and fuel type.
We measured particle number counts (PNCs) and concentrations of PM2.5 (particulate matter <or= 2.5 microm in aerodynamic diameter), PM10, and soot between June 2007 and June 2008 on 47 weekdays, from 0800 to 1000 hours, in diesel and electric buses, gasoline- and diesel-fueled cars, and along two bicycle routes with different traffic intensities in Arnhem, the Netherlands. In addition, each-day measurements were taken at an urban background location.
We found that median PNC exposures were highest in diesel buses (38,500 particles/cm3) and for cyclists along the high-traffic intensity route (46,600 particles/cm3) and lowest in electric buses (29,200 particles/cm3). Median PM10 exposure was highest from diesel buses (47 microg/m3) and lowest along the high- and low-traffic bicycle routes (39 and 37 microg/m3). The median soot exposure was highest in gasoline-fueled cars (9.0 x 10-5/m), diesel cars (7.9 x 10-5/m), and diesel buses (7.4 x 10-5/m) and lowest along the low-traffic bicycle route (4.9 x 10-5/m). Because the minute ventilation (volume of air per minute) of cyclists, which we estimated from measured heart rates, was twice the minute ventilation of car and bus passengers, we calculated that the inhaled air pollution doses were highest for cyclists. With the exception of PM10, we found that inhaled air pollution doses were lowest for electric bus passengers.
Commuters' rush hour exposures were significantly influenced by mode of transport, route, and fuel type.

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    • "The most common anthropogenic source contributing particulate matter (PM) to the urban atmosphere is the vehicular emissions. It has gained the importance due to occupational exposure for drivers and public exposure for the people using these vehicles for transportation and road sides for daily activities (Devi et al., 2009; Zuurbier et al., 2010; Chio et al., 2012). "
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    • "Daily commuters may be especially vulnerable given their proximity and enhanced exposures to traffic-related pollution, as well as other non-chemical stressors including noise and psychosocial stress. While time spent daily in traffic may be limited, exposure assessments measuring invehicle pollutant concentrations indicate that even short durations inside vehicles ($ 30 min) can contribute substantially to total daily exposures to particulate matter (PM) (Adams et al., 2001; Boogaard et al., 2009; Rodes et al., 1998; Sioutas et al., 2005; Zuurbier et al., 2010). Despite this, there is still considerable uncertainty concerning in-vehicle exposures during typical commuting scenarios and corresponding cardiorespiratory responses for daily commuters. "
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    • "Cyclists are generally at risk for higher exposures to TRAP after accounting for increased minute ventilation rates during their commutes. In addition, cyclists are exposed to higher peak concentrations since in-vehicle concentrations are buffered by limited air exchange (Zuurbier et al., 2010). The increased exposure to TRAP suggests that bicycle commuters are at greater risk of cardiovascular and respiratory damage. "
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