Integrating Modes of Transport in a Dynamic Modelling Approach to Evaluate Population Exposure to Ambient NO2 and PM2.5 Pollution in Urban Areas


To evaluate the effectiveness of alternative policies and measures to reduce air pollution effects on urban citizen’s health, population exposure assessments are needed. Due to road traffic emissions being a major source of emissions and exposure in European cities, it is necessary to account for differentiated transport environments in population dynamics for exposure studies. In this study, we applied a modelling system to evaluate population exposure in the urban area of Hamburg in 2016. The modeling system consists of an urban-scale chemistry transport model to account for ambient air pollutant concentrations and a dynamic time-microenvironment-activity (TMA) approach, which accounts for population dynamics in different environments as well as for infiltration of outdoor to indoor air pollution. We integrated different modes of transport in the TMA approach to improve population exposure assessments in transport environments. The newly developed approach reports 12% more total exposure to NO2 and 19% more to PM2.5 compared with exposure estimates based on residential addresses. During the time people spend in different transport environments, the in-car environment contributes with 40% and 33% to the annual sum of exposure to NO2 and PM2.5, in the walking environment with 26% and 30%, in the cycling environment with 15% and 17% and other environments (buses, subway, suburban, and regional trains) with less than 10% respectively. The relative contribution of road traffic emissions to population exposure is highest in the in-car environment (57% for NO2 and 15% for PM2.5). Results for population-weighted exposure revealed exposure to PM2.5 concentrations above the WHO AQG limit value in the cycling environment. Uncertainties for the exposure contributions arising from emissions and infiltration from outdoor to indoor pollutant concentrations range from −12% to +7% for NO2 and PM2.5. The developed “dynamic transport approach” is integrated in a computationally efficient exposure model, which is generally applicable in European urban areas. The presented methodology is promoted for use in urban mobility planning, e.g., to investigate on policy-driven changes in modal split and their combined effect on emissions, population activity and population exposure.
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