Common Transportation Modes and Commuter Exposure to Air Pollutants

A study published in the August 2017 edition of Atmospheric Environment estimated and compared “air pollution exposures experienced by commuters in six common transportation modes utilized by California residents.” The aim of the study was to “evaluate the impact of practical exposure mitigation strategies in reducing commute exposures.” Modes of transportation measured included single occupancy vehicles, high occupancy vehicles, buses, light rail, train, and bicycling.

In order to conduct the study, researchers measured concentrations of fine particle matter, black carbon and ultrafine particles for 161 commutes in Sacramento, CA. The researchers found “the largest average concentrations for most pollutants were measured during train commutes and the lowest average concentrations were observed during light-rail commutes.”  They also found “ventilation settings of personal vehicles can reduce” exposures by 75%, and “bicycle route choice can reduce exposures by 15-75% with the lowest concentrations observed during commutes on dedicated bicycle paths away from traffic sources.”

Click here to view the study.

Share