Spatial Resolution Requirements for Traffic-Related Air Pollutant Exposure Evaluations.
ABSTRACT: Vehicle emissions represent one of the most important air pollution sources in most urban areas, and elevated concentrations of pollutants found near major roads have been associated with many adverse health impacts. To understand these impacts, exposure estimates should reflect the spatial and temporal patterns observed for traffic-related air pollutants. This paper evaluates the spatial resolution and zonal systems required to estimate accurately intraurban and near-road exposures of traffic-related air pollutants. The analyses use the detailed information assembled for a large (800 km2) area centered on Detroit, Michigan, USA. Concentrations of nitrogen oxides (NOx) due to vehicle emissions were estimated using hourly traffic volumes and speeds on 9,700 links representing all but minor roads in the city, the MOVES2010 emission model, the RLINE dispersion model, local meteorological data, a temporal resolution of 1 hr, and spatial resolution as low as 10 m. Model estimates were joined with the corresponding shape files to estimate residential exposures for 700,000 individuals at property parcel, census block, census tract, and ZIP code levels. We evaluate joining methods, the spatial resolution needed to meet specific error criteria, and the extent of exposure misclassification. To portray traffic-related air pollutant exposure, raster or inverse distance-weighted interpolations are superior to nearest neighbor approaches, and interpolations between receptors and points of interest should not exceed about 40 m near major roads, and 100 m at larger distances. For census tracts and ZIP codes, average exposures are overestimated since few individuals live very near major roads, the range of concentrations is compressed, most exposures are misclassified, and high concentrations near roads are entirely omitted. While smaller zones improve performance considerably, even block-level data can misclassify many individuals. To estimate exposures and impacts of traffic-related pollutants accurately, data should be geocoded or estimated at the most-resolved spatial level; census tract and larger zones have little if any ability to represent intraurban variation in traffic-related air pollutant concentrations. These results are based on one of the most comprehensive intraurban modeling studies in the literature and results are robust. Recommendations address the value of dispersion models to portray spatial and temporal variation of air pollutants in epidemiology and other studies; techniques to improve accuracy and reduce the computational burden in urban scale modeling; the necessary spatial resolution for health surveillance, demographic, and pollution data; and the consequences of low resolution data in terms of exposure misclassification.
Project description:Vehicles are major sources of air pollutant emissions, and individuals living near large roads endure high exposures and health risks associated with traffic-related air pollutants. Air pollution epidemiology, health risk, environmental justice, and transportation planning studies would all benefit from an improved understanding of the key information and metrics needed to assess exposures, as well as the strengths and limitations of alternate exposure metrics. This study develops and evaluates several metrics for characterizing exposure to traffic-related air pollutants for the 218 residential locations of participants in the NEXUS epidemiology study conducted in Detroit (MI, USA). Exposure metrics included proximity to major roads, traffic volume, vehicle mix, traffic density, vehicle exhaust emissions density, and pollutant concentrations predicted by dispersion models. Results presented for each metric include comparisons of exposure distributions, spatial variability, intraclass correlation, concordance and discordance rates, and overall strengths and limitations. While showing some agreement, the simple categorical and proximity classifications (e.g., high diesel/low diesel traffic roads and distance from major roads) do not reflect the range and overlap of exposures seen in the other metrics. Information provided by the traffic density metric, defined as the number of kilometers traveled (VKT) per day within a 300 m buffer around each home, was reasonably consistent with the more sophisticated metrics. Dispersion modeling provided spatially- and temporally-resolved concentrations, along with apportionments that separated concentrations due to traffic emissions and other sources. While several of the exposure metrics showed broad agreement, including traffic density, emissions density and modeled concentrations, these alternatives still produced exposure classifications that differed for a substantial fraction of study participants, e.g., from 20% to 50% of homes, depending on the metric, would be incorrectly classified into "low", "medium" or "high" traffic exposure classes. These and other results suggest the potential for exposure misclassification and the need for refined and validated exposure metrics. While data and computational demands for dispersion modeling of traffic emissions are non-trivial concerns, once established, dispersion modeling systems can provide exposure information for both on- and near-road environments that would benefit future traffic-related assessments.
Project description:An important factor in evaluating health risk of near-road air pollution is to accurately estimate the traffic-related vehicle emission of air pollutants. Inclusion of traffic parameters such as road length/area, distance to roads, and traffic volume/intensity into models such as land use regression (LUR) models has improved exposure estimation. To better understand the relationship between vehicle emissions and near-road air pollution, we evaluated three traffic density-based indices: Major-Road Density (MRD), All-Traffic Density (ATD) and Heavy-Traffic Density (HTD) which represent the proportions of major roads, major road with annual average daily traffic (AADT), and major road with commercial annual average daily traffic (CAADT) in a buffered area, respectively. We evaluated the potential of these indices as vehicle emission-specific near-road air pollutant indicators by analyzing their correlation with black carbon (BC), a marker for mobile source air pollutants, using measurement data obtained from the Near-road Exposures and Effects of Urban Air Pollutants Study (NEXUS). The average BC concentrations during a day showed variations consistent with changes in traffic volume which were classified into high, medium, and low for the morning rush hours, the evening rush hours, and the rest of the day, respectively. The average correlation coefficients between BC concentrations and MRD, ATD, and HTD, were 0.26, 0.18, and 0.48, respectively, as compared with -0.31 and 0.25 for two commonly used traffic indicators: nearest distance to a major road and total length of the major road. HTD, which includes only heavy-duty diesel vehicles in its traffic count, gives statistically significant correlation coefficients for all near-road distances (50, 100, 150, 200, 250, and 300 m) that were analyzed. Generalized linear model (GLM) analyses show that season, traffic volume, HTD, and distance from major roads are highly related to BC measurements. Our analyses indicate that traffic density parameters may be more specific indicators of near-road BC concentrations for health risk studies. HTD is the best index for reflecting near-road BC concentrations which are influenced mainly by the emissions of heavy-duty diesel engines.
Project description:Exposure to traffic-related air pollutants is highest very near roads, and thus exposure estimates are sensitive to positional errors. This study evaluates positional and PM2.5 concentration errors that result from the use of automated geocoding methods and from linearized approximations of roads in link-based emission inventories. Two automated geocoders (Bing Map and ArcGIS) along with handheld GPS instruments were used to geocode 160 home locations of children enrolled in an air pollution study investigating effects of traffic-related pollutants in Detroit, Michigan. The average and maximum positional errors using the automated geocoders were 35 and 196?m, respectively. Comparing road edge and road centerline, differences in house-to-highway distances averaged 23?m and reached 82?m. These differences were attributable to road curvature, road width and the presence of ramps, factors that should be considered in proximity measures used either directly as an exposure metric or as inputs to dispersion or other models. Effects of positional errors for the 160 homes on PM2.5 concentrations resulting from traffic-related emissions were predicted using a detailed road network and the RLINE dispersion model. Concentration errors averaged only 9%, but maximum errors reached 54% for annual averages and 87% for maximum 24-h averages. Whereas most geocoding errors appear modest in magnitude, 5% to 20% of residences are expected to have positional errors exceeding 100?m. Such errors can substantially alter exposure estimates near roads because of the dramatic spatial gradients of traffic-related pollutant concentrations. To ensure the accuracy of exposure estimates for traffic-related air pollutants, especially near roads, confirmation of geocoordinates is recommended.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Near-road exposures of traffic-related air pollutants have been receiving increased attention due to evidence linking emissions from high-traffic roadways to adverse health outcomes. To date, most epidemiological and risk analyses have utilized simple but crude exposure indicators, most typically proximity measures, such as the distance between freeways and residences, to represent air quality impacts from traffic. This paper derives and analyzes a simplified microscale simulation model designed to predict short- (hourly) to long-term (annual average) pollutant concentrations near roads. Sensitivity analyses and case studies are used to highlight issues in predicting near-road exposures. METHODS: Process-based simulation models using a computationally efficient reduced-form response surface structure and a minimum number of inputs integrate the major determinants of air pollution exposures: traffic volume and vehicle emissions, meteorology, and receptor location. We identify the most influential variables and then derive a set of multiplicative submodels that match predictions from "parent" models MOBILE6.2 and CALINE4. The assembled model is applied to two case studies in the Detroit, Michigan area. The first predicts carbon monoxide (CO) concentrations at a monitoring site near a freeway. The second predicts CO and PM2.5 concentrations in a dense receptor grid over a 1 km2 area around the intersection of two major roads. We analyze the spatial and temporal patterns of pollutant concentration predictions. RESULTS: Predicted CO concentrations showed reasonable agreement with annual average and 24-hour measurements, e.g., 59% of the 24-hr predictions were within a factor of two of observations in the warmer months when CO emissions are more consistent. The highest concentrations of both CO and PM(2.5) were predicted to occur near intersections and downwind of major roads during periods of unfavorable meteorology (e.g., low wind speeds) and high emissions (e.g., weekday rush hour). The spatial and temporal variation among predicted concentrations was significant, and resulted in unusual distributional and correlation characteristics, including strong negative correlation for receptors on opposite sides of a road and the highest short-term concentrations on the "upwind" side of the road. CONCLUSIONS: The case study findings can likely be generalized to many other locations, and they have important implications for epidemiological and other studies. The reduced-form model is intended for exposure assessment, risk assessment, epidemiological, geographical information systems, and other applications.
Project description:Epidemiologic evidence consistently links urban air pollution exposures to health, even after adjustment for potential spatial confounding by socioeconomic position (SEP), given concerns that air pollution sources may be clustered in and around lower-SEP communities. SEP, however, is often measured with less spatial and temporal resolution than are air pollution exposures (i.e., census-tract socio-demographics vs. fine-scale spatio-temporal air pollution models). Although many questions remain regarding the most appropriate, meaningful scales for the measurement and evaluation of each type of exposure, we aimed to compare associations for multiple air pollutants and social factors against cardiovascular disease (CVD) event rates, with each exposure measured at equal spatial and temporal resolution. We found that, in multivariable census-tract-level models including both types of exposures, most pollutant-CVD associations were non-significant, while most social factors retained significance. Similarly, the magnitude of association was higher for an IQR-range difference in the social factors than in pollutant concentrations. We found that when offered equal spatial and temporal resolution, CVD was more strongly associated with social factors than with air pollutant exposures in census-tract-level analyses in New York City.
Project description:Background:Bronchitic symptoms in children pose a significant clinical and public health burden. Exposures to criteria air pollutants affect bronchitic symptoms, especially in children with asthma. Less is known about near-roadway exposures. Methods:Bronchitic symptoms (bronchitis, chronic cough, or phlegm) in the past 12 months were assessed annually with 8 to 9 years of follow-up on 6757 children from the southern California Children's Health Study. Residential exposure to freeway and non-freeway near-roadway air pollution was estimated using a line-source dispersion model. Mixed-effects logistic regression models were used to relate near-roadway air pollutant exposures to bronchitic symptoms among children with and without asthma. Results:Among children with asthma, a two standard deviation increase in non-freeway exposures (odds ratio [OR]: 1.44; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.17-1.78) and freeway exposures (OR: 1.31; 95% CI: 1.06-1.60) were significantly associated with increased risk of bronchitic symptoms. Among children without asthma, only non-freeway exposures had a significant association (OR: 1.14; 95% CI: 1.00-1.29). Associations were strongest among children living in communities with lower regional particulate matter. Conclusions:Near-roadway air pollution was associated with bronchitic symptoms, especially among children with asthma and those living in communities with lower regional particulate matter. Better characterization of traffic pollutants from non-freeway roads is needed since many children live in close proximity to this source.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Although urban air pollution is a complex mix containing multiple constituents, studies of the health effects of long-term exposure often focus on a single pollutant as a proxy for the entire mixture. A better understanding of the component pollutant concentrations and interrelationships would be useful in epidemiological studies that exploit spatial differences in exposure by clarifying the extent to which measures of individual pollutants, particularly nitrogen dioxide (NO2), represent spatial patterns in the multipollutant mixture. OBJECTIVES: We examined air pollutant concentrations and interrelationships at the intraurban scale to obtain insight into the nature of the urban mixture of air pollutants. METHODS: Mobile measurements of 23 air pollutants were taken systematically at high resolution in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, over 34 days in the winter, summer, and autumn of 2009. RESULTS: We observed variability in pollution levels and in the statistical correlations between different pollutants according to season and neighborhood. Nitrogen oxide species (nitric oxide, NO2, nitrogen oxides, and total oxidized nitrogen species) had the highest overall spatial correlations with the suite of pollutants measured. Ultrafine particles and hydrocarbon-like organic aerosol concentration, a derived measure used as a specific indicator of traffic particles, also had very high correlations. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that the multipollutant mix varies considerably throughout the city, both in time and in space, and thus, no single pollutant would be a perfect proxy measure for the entire mix under all circumstances. However, based on overall average spatial correlations with the suite of pollutants measured, nitrogen oxide species appeared to be the best available indicators of spatial variation in exposure to the outdoor urban air pollutant mixture.
Project description:Epidemiological studies have demonstrated associations between long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution and coronary heart disease (CHD). Atherosclerosis is the principal pathological process responsible for CHD events, but effects of traffic-related air pollution on progression of atherosclerosis are not clear. This study aimed to investigate associations between long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution and progression of carotid artery atherosclerosis.Healthy volunteers in metropolitan Vancouver, Canada.509 participants aged 30-65 years were recruited and followed for approximately 5 years. At baseline and end of follow-up, participants underwent carotid artery ultrasound examinations to assess atherosclerosis severity, including carotid intima-media thickness, plaque area, plaque number and total area. Annual change of each atherosclerosis marker during the follow-up period was calculated as the difference between these two measurements divided by years of follow-up. Living close to major roads was defined as ?150 m from a highway or ?50 m from a major road. Residential exposures to traffic-related air pollutants including black carbon, fine particles, nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide were estimated using high-resolution land-use regression models. The data were analysed using general linear models adjusting for various covariates.At baseline, there were no significant differences in any atherosclerosis markers between participants living close to and those living away from major roads. After follow-up, the differences in annual changes of these markers between these two groups were small and not statistically significant. Also, no significant associations were observed with concentrations of traffic-related air pollutants including black carbon, fine particles, nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide.This study did not find significant associations between traffic-related air pollution and progression of carotid artery atherosclerosis in a region with lower levels and smaller contrasts of ambient air pollution.
Project description:We simulated commuter routes and long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution during commute in a representative population sample in Basel (Switzerland), and evaluated three air pollution models with different spatial resolution for estimating commute exposures to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as a marker of long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution. Our approach includes spatially and temporally resolved data on actual commuter routes, travel modes and three air pollution models. Annual mean NO2 commuter exposures were similar between models. However, we found more within-city and within-subject variability in annual mean (±SD) NO2 commuter exposure with a high resolution dispersion model (40 ± 7 µg m(-3), range: 21-61) than with a dispersion model with a lower resolution (39 ± 5 µg m(-3); range: 24-51), and a land use regression model (41 ± 5 µg m(-3); range: 24-54). Highest median cumulative exposures were calculated along motorized transport and bicycle routes, and the lowest for walking. For estimating commuter exposure within a city and being interested also in small-scale variability between roads, a model with a high resolution is recommended. For larger scale epidemiological health assessment studies, models with a coarser spatial resolution are likely sufficient, especially when study areas include suburban and rural areas.
Project description:Patterns of traffic activity, including changes in the volume and speed of vehicles, vary over time and across urban areas and can substantially affect vehicle emissions of air pollutants. Time-resolved activity at the street scale typically is derived using temporal allocation factors (TAFs) that allow the development of emissions inventories needed to predict concentrations of traffic-related air pollutants. This study examines the spatial and temporal variation of TAFs, and characterizes prediction errors resulting from their use. Methods are presented to estimate TAFs and their spatial and temporal variability and used to analyze total, commercial and non-commercial traffic in the Detroit, Michigan, U.S. metropolitan area. The variability of total volume estimates, quantified by the coefficient of variation (COV) representing the percentage departure from expected hourly volume, was 21, 33, 24 and 33% for weekdays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, respectively. Prediction errors mostly resulted from hour-to-hour variability on weekdays and Saturdays, and from day-to-day variability on Sundays and holidays. Spatial variability was limited across the study roads, most of which were large freeways. Commercial traffic had different temporal patterns and greater variability than noncommercial vehicle traffic, e.g., the weekday variability of hourly commercial volume was 28%. The results indicate that TAFs for a metropolitan region can provide reasonably accurate estimates of hourly vehicle volume on major roads. While vehicle volume is only one of many factors that govern on-road emission rates, air quality analyses would be strengthened by incorporating information regarding the uncertainty and variability of traffic activity.