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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Inhalation intake of ambient air pollution in California's South Coast Air Basin

  • Author(s): Marshall, Julian D.
  • Granvold, Patrick W.
  • Hoats, Abigail S.
  • McKone, Thomas E.
  • Deakin, Elizabeth
  • Nazaroff, William W.
  • et al.

Reliable estimates of inhalation intake of air pollution and its distribution among a specified population are important for environmental epidemiology, health risk assessment, urban planning, and environmental policy. We computed distributional characteristics of the inhalation intake of five pollutants for a group of ~25,000 people (~29,000 person-days) living in California’s South Coast Air Basin. Our approach incorporates four main inputs: temporally resolved information about people’s location (latitude and longitude), microenvironment, and activity level; temporally and spatially explicit model determinations of ambient concentrations; stochastically determined microenvironmental adjustment factors relating the exposure concentration to the ambient concentration; and, age-, gender-, and activity-specific breathing rates. Our study is restricted to pollutants of outdoor origin, i.e. it does not incorporate intake in a microenvironment from direct emissions into that microenvironment. Median estimated inhalation intake rates (μgd-1) are 53 for benzene, 5.1 for 1,3-butadiene, 8.7x10-4 for hexavalent chromium in fine particulate matter (Cr-PM2.5), 30 for diesel fine particulate matter (DPM2.5), and 68 for ozone. For the four primary pollutants studied, estimated median intake rates are higher for non-whites and for individuals in low-income households than for the population as a whole. For ozone, a secondary pollutant, the reverse is true. Accounting for microenvironmental adjustment factors, population mobility and temporal correlations between pollutant concentrations and breathing rates affects the estimated inhalation intake by 40% on average. The approach presented here could be extended to quantify the impact on intakes and intake distributions of proposed changes in emissions, air quality, and urban infrastructure.

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