JOURNAL ARTICLE

Concentrations of air toxics in motor vehicle-dominated environments

Eric M Fujita, David E Campbell, Barbara Zielinska, William P Arnott, Judith C Chow
Research Report (Res Rep Health Eff Inst) 2011, (156): 3-77
21608416
We at the Desert Research Institute (DRI*) measured volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including several mobile-source air toxics (MSATs), particulate matter with a mass mean aerodynamic diameter < or = 2.5 pm (PM2.5), black carbon (BC), nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), and carbon monoxide (CO) on highways in Los Angeles County during summer and fall 2004, to characterize the diurnal and seasonal variations in measured concentrations related to volume and mix of traffic. Concentrations of on-road pollutants were then compared to corresponding measurements at fixed monitoring sites. The on-road concentrations of CO and MSATs were higher in the morning under stable atmospheric conditions and during periods of higher traffic volumes. In contrast, BC concentrations, measured as particulate light absorption, were higher on truck routes during the midday sampling periods despite more unstable atmospheric conditions. Compared to the measurements at the three near-road sites, the 1-hour averages of on-road BC concentrations were as much as an order of magnitude higher. The peak 1-minute average concentrations were two orders of magnitude higher for BC and were between two and six times higher for PM2.5 mass. The on-road concentrations of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX) during the summer were 3.5 +/- 0.7 and 1.2 +/- 0.6 times higher during morning and afternoon commuting periods, respectively, compared to annual average 24-hour concentrations measured at air toxic monitoring network sites. These ratios were higher during the fall, with smaller diurnal differences (4.8 +/- 0.7 and 3.9 +/- 0.6 for morning and afternoon commuting periods, respectively). Ratios similar to those for BTEX were obtained for 1,3-butadiene (BD) and styrene. On-road concentrations of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde were up to two times higher than at air toxics monitoring sites, with fall ratios slightly higher than summer ratios. Chemical mass balance (CMB) receptor model calculations attributed the sum of BTEX almost exclusively to gasoline engine exhaust for on-road samples and all but 5% to 10% of the BTEX at the three near-road sites. CMB analysis attributed 46% to 52% (+/- 7) of the ambient total particulate carbon (TC) at the three near-road sites to diesel exhaust and 10% to 17% (+/- 7) to gasoline exhaust; it attributed about 90% of the ambient elemental carbon (EC) concentrations (measured as refractory carbon using the thermal evolution method) to diesel exhaust. Diesel particulate carbon (DPC) concentrations were estimated by multiplying the mean ratio of TC to EC from the source-dominated ambient samples collected on road on Terminal Island (1.30 +/- 0.28), which is located between the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports, with the measured ambient EC concentrations at the three near-road sites. DPC estimates from EC measurements correlate well with the diesel source contributions calculated with the CMB model. The indication from these apportionments that BC or EC is a good surrogate for diesel exhaust is further supported by the positive correlation of on-road BC concentrations with volumes of truck traffic. Traffic counts have been used in past health assessment studies as surrogates for estimating near-road exposure concentrations with appropriate weighting for proximity to the road. However, the results of this study show that it is necessary to account for the proportion of diesel trucks to total vehicular traffic because of the disproportionate contribution of diesel exhaust to BC and to directly emitted PM. Alternatively, easily measured pollutants such as CO and BC can serve as reasonable surrogates for MSATs (e.g., BTEX and BD) and DPC, respectively. Measuring CO and BC is a reasonably cost-effective approach to quantifying hot-spot exposure concentrations of MSATs that is perhaps more accurate than what is possible using only data from regional air quality monitoring stations or air quality modeling results.

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