An Assessment of the Contribution of Micro-scale Activities to Personal Pollution Exposure in Commuting Micro-environments
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Exposure to traffic pollution has become an increasing concern to public health. A number of studies have demonstrated that the air people breathe in while in transportation is particularly unsafe due to the high concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO), suspended particles (PM10, PM2.5 and PM1) and ultrafine particles (UFPs). Some studies have suggested that peak exposures of approximately one hour- a typical time spent in a transport micro-environment- may have more damaging health effects than the 24- hour sampling times current standards apply to Despite the widespread interest in health effects from exposure to traffic pollutants, there is a distinct lack of research of this kind in New Zealand. The research presented in this thesis was designed to assess the effect of traffic emissions on personal exposure. More specifically, this project intended to examine how exposures differed on different modes of transport and also to investigate the extent to which transport micro-environments such as car parks, bus stops and metro stations contributed to personal exposure levels. This study is the first of its type in New Zealand, which simultaneously monitored CO, PM and UFP concentrations in the transport micro-environment. Vehicular traffic emissions were shown to be a significant source of air pollution in populated urban areas, especially in the transport microenvironment. This results of this study showed that the mode of transport is a significant determinant of personal exposure to pollutants. The information gathered indicated slightly different results for Christchurch and Auckland, possibly due to variations in background levels, traffic counts and meteorological conditions at the time of monitoring. Results from the research also showed that built transport microenvironments could experience extremely high levels of pollutant exposures. Although commuters spend a relatively short time in such environments, such short-term peak exposures could contribute significantly to adverse health effects. The results presented here have relevance for both public health and for policies aimed at reducing human exposures to traffic-related air pollution. It is imperative to incorporate policies which ensure that such built environments are as safe as possible in terms of keeping exposure levels at a minimum.