Estimating the contribution of commuting on exposure to particulate matter in European urban areas ETC/ACM Technical Paper 2012/2

14 May 2012

The exposure experienced by the fraction of the population at the high end of the exposure distribution will lead to a higher risk for this group. Commuters form a high-exposed group both because of their moving to work or school in the central parts of the city where concentrations in general tend to be higher, as well as because of exposure during the travel itself.

Using information from AirBase, factors for day-time and night-time PM10 concentrations have been determined as basis for day-time and night-time concentration maps. Together with generalized information on commuter flux into and out of a city, this has been inserted in a simplified commuter model. The effect of commuting on the population weighted mean is estimates at 5 to 12%. However, for the Individual commuter increases of 50% to more than 300% can be expected, when the exposure during the travel itself is also added.

Thus, the fraction of the population exposed to the highest concentrations, the high end of the exposure distribution, is increased substantially by the commuters, their number is large and their increased exposure substantial. If it becomes important for health effects reduction to limit the high end of the exposure, it is important to further investigate the size of the high-end population, their actual exposure, and to include commuting and commuters in the exposure assessment.

Prepared by: ETC/ACC members Steinar Larssen1, Frank de Leeuw2, Pavel Kurfürst3
1Norwegian Institute of Air Research (NILU), Kjeller, Norway; 2National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Bilthoven, The Netherlands; 3Czech Hydrometeorological Institute (CHMI), Praha, Czech Republic

Published by: ETC/ACM, May 2012, 25 pp.