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A review of commuter exposure to ultrafine particles and its health effects

Knibbs, Luke D., Cole-Hunter, Tom, & Morawska, Lidia (2011) A review of commuter exposure to ultrafine particles and its health effects. Atmospheric Environment, 45(16), pp. 2611-2622.

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Abstract

Ultrafine particles (UFPs, <100 nm) are produced in large quantities by vehicular combustion and are implicated in causing several adverse human health effects. Recent work has suggested that a large proportion of daily UFP exposure may occur during commuting. However, the determinants, variability and transport mode-dependence of such exposure are not well-understood. The aim of this review was to address these knowledge gaps by distilling the results of ‘in-transit’ UFP exposure studies performed to-date, including studies of health effects.

We identified 47 exposure studies performed across 6 transport modes: automobile, bicycle, bus, ferry, rail and walking. These encompassed approximately 3000 individual trips where UFP concentrations were measured. After weighting mean UFP concentrations by the number of trips in which they were collected, we found overall mean UFP concentrations of 3.4, 4.2, 4.5, 4.7, 4.9 and 5.7 × 10^4 particles cm^-3 for the bicycle, bus, automobile, rail, walking and ferry modes, respectively. The mean concentration inside automobiles travelling through tunnels was 3.0 × 10^5 particles cm^-3.

While the mean concentrations were indicative of general trends, we found that the determinants of exposure (meteorology, traffic parameters, route, fuel type, exhaust treatment technologies, cabin ventilation, filtration, deposition, UFP penetration) exhibited marked variability and mode-dependence, such that it is not necessarily appropriate to rank modes in order of exposure without detailed consideration of these factors. Ten in-transit health effects studies have been conducted and their results indicate that UFP exposure during commuting can elicit acute effects in both healthy and health-compromised individuals. We suggest that future work should focus on further defining the contribution of in-transit UFP exposure to total UFP exposure, exploring its specific health effects and investigating exposures in the developing world.

Keywords: air pollution; transport modes; acute health effects; travel; public transport

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ID Code: 48232
Item Type: Journal Article
DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2011.02.065
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EARTH SCIENCES (040000) > ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES (040100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENGINEERING (090000) > ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING (090700)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Past > Schools > Medical Sciences
Past > Schools > Physics
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Elsevier
Copyright Statement: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in [Atmospheric Environment]. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in [Atmospheric Environment], [VOL45, ISSUE16, (2011)] 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2011.02.065
Deposited On: 24 Jan 2012 15:22
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2012 19:38

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