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Adverse health effects from exposure to air pollution are a global challenge and of widespread concern. Recent high ambient concentration episodes of air pollutants in European cities highlighted the dynamic nature of human exposure and the gaps in data and knowledge about exposure patterns. In order to support health impact assessment it is essential to develop a better understanding of individual exposure pathways in people's everyday lives by taking account of all environments in which people spend time. Here we describe the development, validation and results of an exposure method applied in a study conducted in Scotland.
A low-cost particle counter based on light-scattering technology — the Dylos 1700 was used. Its performance was validated in comparison with equivalent instruments (TEOM-FDMS) at two national monitoring network sites (R2 = 0.9 at a rural background site, R2 = 0.7 at an urban background site). This validation also provided two functions to convert measured PNCs into calculated particle mass concentrations for direct comparison of concentrations with equivalent monitoring instruments and air quality limit values.
This study also used contextual and time-based activity data to define six microenvironments (MEs) to assess everyday exposure of individuals to short-term PM2.5 concentrations. The Dylos was combined with a GPS receiver to track movement and exposure of individuals across the MEs. Seventeen volunteers collected 35 profiles. Profiles may have a different overall duration and structure with respect to times spent in different MEs and activities undertaken. Results indicate that due to the substantial variability across and between MEs, it is essential to measure near-complete exposure pathways to allow for a comprehensive assessment of the exposure risk a person encounters on a daily basis. Taking into account the information gained through personal exposure measurements, this work demonstrates the added value of data generated by the application of low-cost monitors.
Steinle, S., S. Reis, C. E. Sabel, S. Semple, M. M. Twigg, C. F. Braban, S. R. L eeson, M. R. Heal, D. Harrison, C. Lin, & H. Wu (2015) Personal exposure monitoring of PM2.5 in indoor and outdoor microenvironments, SCIENCE OF THE TOTAL ENVIRONMENT 508:383-394.