3.62 - Exposure Modelling to Traffic-Related Air Toxic Pollutants

Project Description

Currently, air pollution represents one of the main environmental causes of mortality. About 30% of European citizens in urban areas are exposed to air pollution levels that exceed the air quality limits set by the legislation for the protection of human health, with road transport being the most significant pollution source. In addition to the traditional air pollutants evaluated in urban areas, the hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) has been the subject of particular concern because of their known toxic and carcinogenic effects. In this sense, the evaluation of exposure becomes essential in determining the relationship between urban air pollution and health effects.

The main objective of the current study is the development and implementation of a consistent approach for the quantification of individual exposure to traffic-related air pollutants. For this purpose, relevant parameters of exposure quantification were identified and the current and future potential impacts on human health associated with exposure to urban air pollution were analysed. In this context, the ExPOSITION model (EXPOSure model to traffIc-relaTed aIr) was developed by using a novel approach based on the trajectory analysis of the individuals collected by mobile phones with GPS and processed using the data mining approach and geo-spatial analysis within GIS. Also, the ExPOSITION model considers a probabilistic approach to characterize the variability of micro-environmental parameters and its contribution to personal exposure. Additionally, in order to achieve the objectives of the current study, a new module to quantify emissions of traffic-related HAPs was developed.

In this study, a modelling system, including transport-emissions-dispersion-exposure models was applied to the Leiria urban area for quantification of individual exposure to PM2.5 and benzene. The modelling results were validated based on measurements obtained by personal monitoring and biological monitoring evidencing a good agreement between the model results and measurement data. The methodology developed and implemented in this work allows to estimate and analyse the magnitude, frequency and the inter and intravariability of personal exposure levels, as well as the contribution of different microenvironments, clearly addressing the sequence of exposure events and source-receptor relationship, which is essential for health impact assessment and epidemiological studies. This research work contributes to a better understanding of individual exposure in urban areas, providing new perspectives on individual exposure, essential in the selection of strategies to reduce exposure to urban air pollution and related health effects.

Research Team
  • Daniela Dias
  • Oxana Tchepel (supervisor)
Financial Support
  • FCT
Stage of Progress
  • Concluded in 2012