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Near-Roadway Air Quality: Synthesizing the Findings from Real-World Data

UCD-ITS-RP-10-18

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Suggested Citation:
Karner, Alex, Douglas Eisinger, Debbie A. Niemeier (2010) Near-Roadway Air Quality: Synthesizing the Findings from Real-World Data. Environmental Science & Technology 44 (14), 5334 - 5344

Despite increasing regulatory attention and literature linking roadside air pollution to health outcomes, studies on near roadway air quality have not yet been well synthesized. We employ data collected from 1978 as reported in 41 roadside monitoring studies, encompassing more than 700 air pollutant concentration measurements, published as of June 2008. Two types of normalization, background and edge-of-road, were applied to the observed concentrations. Local regression models were specified to the concentration-distance relationship and analysis of variance was used to determine the statistical significance of trends. Using an edge-of-road normalization, almost all pollutants decay to background by 115−570 m from the edge of road; using the more standard background normalization, almost all pollutants decay to background by 160−570 m from the edge of road. Differences between the normalization methods arose due to the likely bias inherent in background normalization, since some reported background values tend to underpredict (be lower than) actual background. Changes in pollutant concentrations with increasing distance from the road fell into one of three groups: at least a 50% decrease in peak/edge-of-road concentration by 150 m, followed by consistent but gradual decay toward background (e.g., carbon monoxide, some ultrafine particulate matter number concentrations); consistent decay or change over the entire distance range (e.g., benzene, nitrogen dioxide); or no trend with distance (e.g., particulate matter mass concentrations).