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Traffic Exposures and Inhalations of Barcelona Commuters

de Nazelle, Audrey1; Fruin, Scott2; Westerdahl, Dane3; Martinez, David1; Matamala, Jaume1; Kubesch, Nadine1; Nieuwenhuijsen, Mark1

doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000391901.41191.84
Abstracts: ISEE 22nd Annual Conference, Seoul, Korea, 28 August–1 September 2010: Travel-time Air Pollution Exposure, Energy Expenditure, and Health Outcomes: Use of New Technologies and Results

1Center of Research in Enviromental Epidemiology (CREAL), Barcelona, Spain; 2University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA; and 3Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Abstracts published in Epidemiology have been reviewed by the societies at whose meetings the abstracts have been accepted for presentation. These abstracts have not undergone review by the Editorial Board of Epidemiology.


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Barcelona presents characteristics that make travel microenvironments of particularly relevant health concern. Traffic, with its high proportion of diesel vehicles, dominates emissions sources. Canyon streets and bike lanes predominately situated along heavy traffic streets may put pedestrians and cyclists at risk of elevated exposures. We designed a study aimed at comparing exposure and inhalation of air contaminants across modes in Barcelona.

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Commuters equipped with a GPS unit, an accelerometer, and air quality samplers were monitored on 4 routes in 4 travel modes. Pairs of commuters traveling at the same time on the same route in 2 different modes and during 4 periods of the day were monitored during 3 weeks in June 2009. Black carbon was estimated with a new portable microaethalometer (Magee), as well as with reflectance measurements of particulate matter (PM2.5) filters collected with high-flow gravimetric sampler (Adams 2001). PM2.5 was also measured continuously with a Dust-Trak (TSI). Two different instruments were used for comparisons of ultrafine particulates (P-Trak and CPC 3007), and Q-Traks measured CO (all TSI).

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Trends for most pollutants show highest exposure concentration for car occupants, followed by bus riders, cyclists, and pedestrians. We found pedestrians were exposed on average to: 1.1 ppm of CO, 44,540 pt/cm3 of ultrafine particulate, 30.7 μg/m3 PM2.5, and 5855 ng/m3 of black carbon. Pairwise comparisons show car drivers are exposed to close to 3 times greater concentrations of ultrafine and black carbon than pedestrians, and respectively 50% and 33% higher PM2.5 and CO.

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The presentation further compares exposures and inhalation across modes, with a discussion on factors influencing exposures (eg, location of bike lane, intersections, street type) and equipment used.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.