An investigation of commuter exposure to ultrafine particles in Sydney

Knibbs, Luke D. & Morawska, Lidia (2011) An investigation of commuter exposure to ultrafine particles in Sydney. Air Quality and Climate Change, 45(2), pp. 15-20.

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Commuting in various transport modes represents an activity likely to incur significant exposure to traffic emissions. This study investigated the determinants and characteristics of exposure to ultrafine (< 100 nm) particles (UFPs) in four transport modes in Sydney, with a specific focus on exposure in automobiles, which remain the transport mode of choice for approximately 70% of Sydney commuters. UFP concentrations were measured using a portable condensation particle counter (CPC) inside five automobiles commuting on above ground and tunnel roadways, and in buses, ferries and trains. Determinant factors investigated included wind speed, cabin ventilation (automobiles only) and traffic volume.

The results showed that concentrations varied significantly as a consequence of transport mode, vehicle type and ventilation characteristics. The effects of wind speed were minimal relative to those of traffic volume (especially heavy diesel vehicles) and cabin ventilation, with the latter proving to be a strong determinant of UFP ingress into automobiles.

The effect of ~70 minutes of commuting on total daily exposure was estimated using a range of UFP concentrations reported for several microenvironments. A hypothetical Sydney resident commuting by automobile and spending 8.5 minutes of their day in the M5 East tunnel could incur anywhere from a lower limit of 3-11% to an upper limit of 37-69% of daily UFP exposure during a return commute, depending on the concentrations they encountered in other microenvironments, the type of vehicle they used and the ventilation setting selected. However, commute-time exposures at either extreme of the values presented are unlikely to occur in practice. The range of exposures estimated for other transport modes were comparable to those of automobiles, and in the case of buses, higher than automobiles.

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ID Code: 48234
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: traffic emissions, ultrafine particles
ISSN: 1836-5884
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: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Past > Schools > Physics
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand
Copyright Statement: All material appearing in Air Quality and Climate
Change (or any other Clean Air Society of Australia
and New Zealand Publication) is subject to
copyright. Reproduction in whole or in part is not
permitted without the written permission of the
Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand and
where appropriate, the authors of the material.
Deposited On: 24 Jan 2012 22:24
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2012 22:55

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