Real-time measurement of on-road fine particulate matter in Atlanta
Papier, Mark Elliot
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Particulate matter is increasingly linked to health effects not only for what was previously thought to be just a respiratory problem, but also for the cardiovascular system. Literature not only supports that high particulate matter over long periods of time is correlated to morbidity and mortality due to both cardiovascular and respiratory means, but that high levels of particulate matter, even in short bursts of high concentrations, may be the triggering mechanism for the onset of such problems. Due to automobiles being a prime source of particulate matter, roadway concentrations are often higher than those measured at off-road measurement sites run by various parts of the United States Government. Furthermore, the government run sites are averaged over timescales at a minimum of an hour and at a maximum of a running three-day twenty-four hour length. These are both so long that mesoscale information about the particulate matter, such as short duration high intensity bursts, would be completely removed from the dataset. This study utilizes a real-time portable instrumentation package, which can effectively measure particulate matter concentrations on the roadways of metro Atlanta. Measurements are taken both inside the cabin of a vehicle, which does have an in-cabin filtration system, and on a bicycle ridden along the streets without any form of filtration. These instruments, specifically calibrated handheld particle counters, did indeed find some spikes of particulates above the government s one-hour averages inside the cabin of a vehicle. Arguably more importantly, while riding a bicycle these handheld particle counters also found spikes of particulates approaching six times the amount monitored by the government sites, and several roadway averages that were higher than the off-road averages for the same time.