Mobile assessment of on-road air pollution and its sources along the East-West Highway in Bhutan

Wangchuk, Tenzin, Knibbs, Luke D., He, Congrong, & Morawska, Lidia (2015) Mobile assessment of on-road air pollution and its sources along the East-West Highway in Bhutan. Atmospheric Environment, 118, pp. 98-106.

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Human exposures in transportation microenvironments are poorly represented by ambient stationary monitoring. A number of on-road studies using vehicle-based mobile monitoring have been conducted to address this. Most previous studies were conducted on urban roads in developed countries where the primary emission source was vehicles. Few studies have examined on-road pollution in developing countries in urban settings. Currently, no study has been conducted for roadways in rural environments where a substantial proportion of the population live. This study aimed to characterize on-road air quality on the East-West Highway (EWH) in Bhutan and identify its principal sources. We conducted six mobile measurements of PM10, particle number (PN) count and CO along the entire 570 km length of the EWH. We divided the EWH into five segments, R1-R5, taking the road length between two district towns as a single road segment. The pollutant concentrations varied widely along the different road segments, with the highest concentrations for R5 compared with other road segments (PM10 = 149 µg/m3, PN = 5.74 × 104 particles/cm-3, CO = 0.19 ppm), which is the final segment of the road to the capital. Apart from vehicle emissions, the dominant sources were road works, unpaved roads and roadside combustion activities. Overall, the highest contributions above the background levels were made by unpaved roads for PM10 (6 times background), and vehicle emissions for PN and CO (5 and 15 times background, respectively). Notwithstanding the differences in instrumentation used and particle size range measured, the current study showed lower PN concentrations compared with similar on-road studies. However, concentrations were still high enough that commuters, road maintenance workers and residents living along the EWH, were potentially exposed to elevated pollutant concentrations from combustion and non-combustion sources. Future studies should focus on assessing the dispersion patterns of roadway pollutants and defining the short- and long-term health impacts of exposure in Bhutan, as well as in other developing countries with similar characteristics.

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ID Code: 91272
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: On-road, Bhutan, Particle Number, PM10, CO
DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2015.07.040
ISSN: 1352-2310
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EARTH SCIENCES (040000) > ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES (040100) > Atmospheric Aerosols (040101)
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 > ENGINEERING (090000) > ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING (090700) > Environmental Engineering not elsewhere classified (090799)
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 2015 Elsevier
Copyright Statement: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution; Non-Commercial; No-Derivatives 4.0 International. DOI:10.1016/j.atmosenv.2015.07.040
Deposited On: 16 Dec 2015 03:47
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2015 07:16

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