Individual exposure to particulate air pollution and its relevance to thresholds for health effects: A study of traffic wardens

M. Watt, D. Godden, J. Cherrie, A. Seaton*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    59 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective - To investigate the differences between measurements of personal exposure to particulate air pollution and static area measurements in a group of people working close to traffic and to determine whether such differences might obscure any threshold for health effects in epidemiological studies. Methods - Personal air sampling was carried out on two groups of eight traffic wardens for four days on two consecutive weeks in November 1994. These measurements were compared with standard environmental static sampling data that were obtained for the same period. A simulation with log normal distributions of personal exposures was produced, and an arbitrary risk calculated for each exposure, assuming a threshold of 50 μg/m3, and an exposure-response curve was calculated. Results - The median concentration for personal samplers in week 1 was 123 μg/m3 and 41 μg/m3 in week 2. Corresponding area concentrations were 10 μg/m3 and 7.5 μg/m3. The differences between the personal and area results were significant, as were the differences for personal sampling between weeks 1 and 2. The simulation showed that the variation in individual exposures around an area sampler obscured the threshold. Conclusions - Area sampling data may be of limited value in the investigation of the biological effects of exposure to pollution and their use may result in real thresholds being obscured. Personal exposure assessment may be crucial in determination of the health effects attributable to different concentrations of air pollutants.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)790-792
    Number of pages3
    JournalOccupational and Environmental Medicine
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 1995


    • Environmental pollution
    • Misclassification errors
    • Personal particulate sampling

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Environmental Science
    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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