Utility of an alternative bicycle commute route of lower proximity to motorised traffic in decreasing exposure to ultra-fine particles, respiratory symptoms and airway inflammation - a structured exposure experiment

Cole-Hunter, Tom, Morawska, Lidia, Stewart, Ian, Jayaratne, Rohan, & Solomon, Colin (2013) Utility of an alternative bicycle commute route of lower proximity to motorised traffic in decreasing exposure to ultra-fine particles, respiratory symptoms and airway inflammation - a structured exposure experiment. Environmental Health, 12(28).

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Background: Bicycle commuting in an urban environment of high air pollution is known as a potential health risk, especially for susceptible individuals. While risk management strategies aimed to reduce motorised traffic emissions exposure have been suggested, limited studies have assessed the utility of such strategies in real-world circumstances.

Objectives: The potential of reducing exposure to ultrafine particles (UFP; < 0.1 µm) during bicycle commuting by lowering interaction with motorised traffic was investigated with real-time air pollution and acute inflammatory measurements in healthy individuals using their typical, and an alternative to their typical, bicycle commute route.

Methods: Thirty-five healthy adults (mean ± SD: age = 39 ± 11 yr; 29% female) each completed two return trips of their typical route (HIGH) and a pre-determined altered route of lower interaction with motorised traffic (LOW; determined by the proportion of on-road cycle paths). Particle number concentration (PNC) and diameter (PD) were monitored in real-time in-commute. Acute inflammatory indices of respiratory symptom incidence, lung function and spontaneous sputum (for inflammatory cell analyses) were collected immediately pre-commute, and one and three hours post-commute.

Results: LOW resulted in a significant reduction in mean PNC (1.91 x e4 ± 0.93 x e4 ppcc vs. 2.95 x e4 ± 1.50 x e4 ppcc; p ≤ 0.001). Besides incidence of in-commute offensive odour detection (42 vs. 56 %; p = 0.019), incidence of dust and soot observation (33 vs. 47 %; p = 0.038) and nasopharyngeal irritation (31 vs. 41 %; p = 0.007), acute inflammatory indices were not significantly associated to in-commute PNC, nor were these indices reduced with LOW compared to HIGH.

Conclusions: Exposure to PNC, and the incidence of offensive odour and nasopharyngeal irritation, can be significantly reduced when utilising a strategy of lowering interaction with motorised traffic whilst bicycle commuting, which may bring important benefits for both healthy and susceptible individuals.

Impact and interest:

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8 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 58654
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Air pollution, bicycle commuting, ultrafine particle, respiratory symptom, lung function, inflammatory cell, risk management
DOI: 10.1186/1476-069X-12-29
ISSN: 1476-069X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EARTH SCIENCES (040000) > ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES (040100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (050000) > ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT (050200) > Environmental Monitoring (050206)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > OTHER MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (119900) > Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified (119999)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Chemistry, Physics & Mechanical Engineering
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 Cole-Hunter et al.
Copyright Statement: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Deposited On: 26 Mar 2013 01:42
Last Modified: 02 Oct 2013 05:07

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