Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Differences in cyclists and car drivers exposure to air pollution from traffic in the city of Copenhagen.

Rank J, Folke J, Jespersen PH. University of Roskilde, Department of Environment, Technology and Social Studies, Denmark. jr@ruc.dk

It has frequently been claimed that cycling in heavy traffic is unhealthy, more so than driving a car. To test this hypothesis, teams of two cyclists and two car drivers in two cars were equipped with personal air samplers while driving for 4 h on 2 different days in the morning traffic of Copenhagen. The air sample charcoal tubes were analysed for their benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX) content and the air filters for particles (total dust). The concentrations of particles and BTEX in the cabin of the cars were 2-4 times greater than in the cyclists' breathing zone, the greatest difference being for BTEX. Therefore, even after taking the increased respiration rate of cyclists into consideration, car drivers seem to be more exposed to airborne pollution than cyclists.
Health Promotion Journal of Australia 2004;15:63-7:
Issue addressed: International studies have consistently found that exposure to air pollutants is higher inside cars than outside. However, few studies have compared personal exposure to air pollutants by travel mode focusing on usual travel patterns.
Objectives: To compare the exposure to benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) for commuters in central Sydney for five different commuting modes.
Results: The highest pollutant levels for all four BTEX pollutants were found for car commuters. Train commuters recorded the lowest pollutant levels for all four BTEX pollutants and NO2, and these levels were significantly lower than that for car commuters. Commuting by bus recorded the highest levels for NO2. Walking and cycling commuters had significantly lower levels of exposure to benzene compared with car commuters and significantly lower levels of NO2 than bus commuters.
Conclusions: The results of this study are consistent with the findings of studies in other cities and found elevated levels of exposure to motor vehicle-related pollutants in roadway microenvironments. Strategies that encourage commuting by train, walking and cycling should be supported as this reduces population exposure to motor vehicle-related pollutants.

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