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The impact of traffic volume, composition, and road geometry on personal air pollution exposures among cyclists in Montreal, Canada


Cyclists may experience increased exposure to traffic-related air pollution owing to increased minute ventilation and close proximity to vehicle emissions. The aims of this study were to characterize personal exposures to air pollution among urban cyclists and to identify potential determinants of exposure including the type of cycling lane (separated vs on-road), traffic counts, and meteorological factors. In total, personal air pollution exposure data were collected over 64 cycling routes during morning and evening commutes in Montreal, Canada, over 32 days during the summer of 2011. Measured pollutants included ultrafine particles (UFPs), fine particles (PM2.5), black carbon (BC), and carbon monoxide (CO). Counts of diesel vehicles were important predictors of personal exposures to BC, with each 10 vehicle/h increase associated with a 15.0% (95% confidence interval (CI): 5.7%, 24.0%) increase in exposure. Use of separated cycling lanes had less impact on personal exposures with a 12% (95% CI: −43%, 14%) decrease observed for BC and smaller decreases observed for UFPs (mean: −1.3%, 95% CI: −20%, 17%) and CO (mean: −5.6%, 95% CI: −17%, 4%) after adjusting for meteorological factors and traffic counts. On average, PM2.5 exposure increased 7.8% (95% CI: −17%, 35%) with separate cycling lane use, but this estimate was imprecise and not statistically significant. In general, our findings suggest that diesel vehicle traffic is an important contributor to personal BC exposures and that separate cycling lanes may have a modest impact on personal exposure to some air pollutants. Further evaluation is required, however, as the impact of separate cycling lanes and/or traffic counts on personal exposures may vary between regions.

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Correspondence to Scott Weichenthal.

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Hatzopoulou, M., Weichenthal, S., Dugum, H. et al. The impact of traffic volume, composition, and road geometry on personal air pollution exposures among cyclists in Montreal, Canada. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 23, 46–51 (2013).

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