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Exposure assessment of cyclists to UFP and PM on urban routes in Xi'an, China

Qiu, Zhaowen, Wang, Wazi, Zheng, Jinlong, Lv, Huitao
Environmental pollution 2019 v.250 pp. 241-250
air pollution, autumn, bicycling, diesel engines, exposure assessment, metropolitan areas, multivariate analysis, particulates, pollutants, portable equipment, relative humidity, risk, roadsides, summer, temperature, traffic, wind speed, China
With the promotion of bicycle sharing, cycling as an active transportation mode is a matter of public interest. However, cyclists' recurrent exposure to traffic-related air pollution is associated with the potential health risks. Quantification of the health risks associated with daily exposure of commuting cyclists to atmospheric pollutants is vital, but barely reported. In this study, real-time mobile measurement campaigns were performed with high time-resolution portable instruments, along two commuting routes in Xi'an, China. We investigated personal exposure and inhaled dose of particulate matter and ultrafine particle (UFP) for cyclists. The results showed cyclists' exposure to average pollutants concentrations: fine particulate matter (PM2.5, 38.6 ± 17.1 μg m−3) and UFP (18,172 ± 11,282 particles cm−3). The exposure “hotspots” of cyclists were identified: intersections, diesel engines, etc. Cyclists' exposure to the highest PM2.5 (46.9 μg m−3) concentrations were observed in morning periods; these were ∼36%/42% higher compared to the afternoon or evening, while the latter periods corresponded to higher UFP concentrations (18,342/18,502 particles cm−3). The measurements of PM2.5 and UFP were clearly higher during autumn months, when compared to summer months. In multivariate models, wind speed was not significant, temperature and local urban background concentrations explained 70.9% the variation of PM2.5, the 67.8% of UFP was explained by temperature, traffic and relative humidity, and each 100 increase in on-road vehicles were associated with increase of 1328 particles cm−3 for UFP exposure in cyclists. Cycling in bike boulevards decreased exposure concentrations by 31.5% for PM and 36.6% for UFP compared to traffic roadsides, moving vehicles were identified as key contributors to PM0.25-0.3 and PM2.0-10 of cyclists' exposure. The potential health risks deserve attention under the mobility and air pollution challenges faced by many metropolitan areas in emerging economies. Our findings could serve to promote better design for low-exposure network of separated bike boulevards.