Developing a Methodology for Monitoring Personal Exposure to Particulate Matter in a Variety of Microenvironments
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Forthcoming publications in peer-reviewed journals
Adverse health effects from exposure to air pollution, although at present only partly understood, are a global challenge and of widespread concern. Quantifying human exposure to air pollutants is challenging, as ambient concentrations of air pollutants at potentially harmful levels are ubiquitous and subject to high spatial and temporal variability. At the same time, individuals have their very own unique activity-patterns. Hence exposure results from intertwined relationships between environmental and human systems add complexity to the assessment process. It is essential to develop a deeper understanding of individual exposure pathways and situations occurring in people’s everyday lives. This is important especially with regard to exposure and health impact assessment which provide the basis for public health advice and policy development. This thesis describes the development and application of a personal monitoring method to assess exposure to fine particulate matter in a variety of microenvironments. Tools and methods applied are tested with respect to feasibility, intrusiveness, performance and potential for future applications. The development of the method focuses on the application in everyday environments and situations in an attempt to capture as much of the total exposure as possible, across a complete set of microenvironments. Seventeen volunteers took part in the pilot study, collected data and provided feedback on methodology and tools applied. The low-cost particle counter applied showed good agreement with reference instruments when studied in two different environments. Based on the assessment of the two instruments functions to derive particle mass concentration from the original particle number counts have been defined. The application of the devices and tools received positive feedback from the volunteers. Limitations are mainly related to the non-weatherproof design of the particle counter. The collection of time-activity patterns with GPS and time-activity diaries is challenging and requires careful processing. Resulting personal exposure profiles highlight the influence of individual activities and contextual factors. Highest concentrations were measured in indoor environments where people also spent the majority of time. Differences between transport modes as well as between urban and rural areas were identified.
Steinle S, Reis S, Sabel CE. Quantifying human exposure to air pollution - moving from static monitoring to spatio-temporally resolved personal exposure assessment. Science of the Total Environment 2013; 443: 184-193.
Reis, Stefan Dr
Sabel, Clive Prof
PhD in Geography