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Assessment of the Integrated Personal Exposure to Particulate Emissions in Urban Micro-environments: A Pilot Study

Category: Urban Air Quality

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DOI: 10.4209/aaqr.2019.04.0201
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Phuong Thi Minh Tran, Jie Rui Ngoh, Rajasekhar Balasubramanian

  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117576, Singapore


  • Integrated personal exposure assessment was conducted in urban microenvironments.
  • The concentrations of PM2.5, UFPs and BC varied greatly in both space and time.
  • These concentrations are higher than those at fixed air monitoring stations.
  • Lung deposited surface area concentrations were also high in microenvironments.
  • Individuals exposed to such high PM levels may experience adverse health effects.


City dwellers’ personal exposure to PM is influenced by numerous daily activities in multiple indoor and outdoor micro-environments (MEs). This study assessed the integrated personal exposure to PM across urban MEs together with the recording individual time-activity patterns. We evaluated simultaneously the exposure to PM2.5, black carbon (BC), and ultrafine particles (UFPs) in the Central Business District (CBD) area of Singapore. In addition, we quantified the lung-deposited surface area (LDSA) concentration, which is an indicator of the potential health impacts of UFPs. The field study was conducted over a 7-km walking route to identify air pollution hotspots. Subsequently, the personal exposure to PM2.5, BC, and UFPs was measured at five selected hotspots for 1 hour each and across indoor and outdoor MEs during diverse daily human activities for 24 hours. The PM concentrations were found to vary considerably in both space and time in the CBD area. During the 1-hour personal exposure measurement, extremely high concentrations of PM2.5 (215 ± 129.5 µg m–3 and 36.4 ± 12.5 µg m–3) and BC (20.9 ± 10.4 µg m–3 and 18.1 ± 12.0 µg m–3) were observed at a temple and a bus stop, and elevated UFP number concentrations (320.8 ± 131.1 × 103 # cm–3) and high LDSA concentrations (564.6 ± 276.5 µg2 cm–3) were measured at a food court. The estimated potential health risk suggests that the continued inhalation of large amounts of PM2.5 emitted from combustion sources is likely to lead to adverse long-term health effects among the exposed individuals. Overall, we provide insight into an individual’s total exposure to PM based on time-activity patterns. The results of this work form a scientific basis for developing air pollution control measures to mitigate personal exposure to PM on a city scale.


Aerosol Sampling and transport Air quality Personal exposure

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