Intra-urban and street scale variability of BTEX, NO2 and O3 in Birmingham, UK: Implications for exposure assessment

Sotiris Vardoulakis, Efisio Solazzo, Julio Lumbreras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Automatic monitoring networks have the ability of capturing air pollution episodes, as well as short- and long-term air quality trends in urban areas that can be used in epidemiological studies. However, due to practical constraints (e.g. cost and bulk of equipment), the use of automatic analysers is restricted to a limited number of roadside and background locations within a city. As a result, certain localised air pollution hotspots may be overlooked or overemphasised, especially near heavily trafficked street canyons and intersections. This has implications for compliance with regulatory standards and may cause exposure misclassification in epidemiological studies. Apart from automatic analysers, low cost passive diffusion tubes can be used to characterise the spatial variability of air pollution in urban areas.In this study, BTEX, NO2 and O3 data from a one-year passive sampling survey were used to characterise the intra-urban and street scale spatial variability of traffic-related pollutants in Birmingham (UK). In addition, continuous monitoring of NO2, NOx, O3, CO, SO2, PM10 and PM2.5 from three permanent monitoring sites was used to identify seasonal and annual pollution patterns. The passive sampling measurements allowed us to evaluate the representativeness of a permanent roadside monitoring site that has recorded some of the highest NO2 and PM10 concentrations in Birmingham in recent years. Dispersion modelling was also used to gain further insight into pollutant sources and dispersion characteristics at this location. The strong spatial concentration gradients observed in busy streets, as well as the differences between roadside and urban background levels highlight the importance of appropriate positioning of air quality monitoring equipment in cities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5069-5078
Number of pages10
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Issue number29
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011
Externally publishedYes


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