UBC Faculty Research and Publications

An Investigation into Which Methods Best Explain Children’s Exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution Van Ryswyk, Keith; Wheeler, Amanda J.; Grgicak-Mannion, Alice; Xu, Xiaohong; Curran, Jason; Caravaggio, Gianni; Hall, Ajae; MacDonald, Penny; Brook, Jeffrey R.


There have been several methods employed to quantify individual-level exposure to ambient traffic-related air pollutants (TRAP). These include an individual’s residential proximity to roads, measurement of individual pollutants as surrogates or markers, as well as dispersion and land use regression (LUR) models. Hopanes are organic compounds still commonly found on ambient particulate matter and are specific markers of combustion engine primary emissions, but they have not been previously used in personal exposure studies. In this paper, children’s personal exposures to TRAP were evaluated using hopanes determined from weekly integrated filters collected as part of a personal exposure study in Windsor, Canada. These hopane measurements were used to evaluate how well other commonly used proxies of exposure to TRAP performed. Several of the LUR exposure estimates for a range of air pollutants were associated with the children’s summer personal hopane exposures (r = 0.41–0.74). However, all personal hopane exposures in summer were more strongly associated with the length of major roadways within 500 m of their homes. In contrast, metrics of major roadways and LUR estimates were poorly correlated with any winter personal hopanes. Our findings suggest that available TRAP exposure indicators have the potential for exposure misclassification in winter vs. summer and more so for LUR than for metrics of major road density. As such, limitations are evident when using traditional proxy methods for assigning traffic exposures and these may be especially important when attempting to assign exposures for children’s key growth and developmental windows. If long-term chronic exposures are being estimated, our data suggest that measures of major road lengths in proximity to homes are a more-specific approach for assigning personal TRAP exposures.

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