Quantifying human exposure to air pollution - moving from static monitoring to spatio-temporally resolved personal exposure assessment

Susanne Steinle, Stefan Reis, Clive Eric Sabel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

282 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Quantifying human exposure to air pollutants is a challenging task. Ambient concentrations of air pollutants at potentially harmful levels are ubiquitous in urban areas and subject to high spatial and temporal variability. At the same time, every individual has unique activity-patterns. Exposure results from multifaceted relationships and interactions between environmental and human systems, adding complexity to the assessment process. Traditionally, approaches to quantify human exposure have relied on pollutant concentrations from fixed air quality network sites and static population distributions. New developments in sensor technology now enable us to monitor personal exposure to air pollutants directly while people are moving through their activity spaces and varying concentration fields. The literature review on which this paper is based on reflects recent developments in the assessment of human exposure to air pollution. This includes the discussion of methodologies and concepts, and the elaboration of approaches and study designs applied in the field. We identify shortcomings of current approaches and discuss future research needs. We close by proposing a novel conceptual model for the integrated assessment of human exposure to air pollutants taking into account latest technological capabilities and contextual information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-193
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume443
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

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