Assessing Canadian Commuter Pollution Exposure

Commuter Exposures

This webinar was presented on September 18, 2014

Traffic related air pollution (TRAP) has been clearly linked to negative health outcomes including both respiratory and cardiovascular health effects.

As part of the Clean Air Regulatory Agenda (CARA), Health Canada conducts targeted human exposure studies to gather information on sources of air pollution in Canada.

The activity of commuting may represent ranges of air pollutants not captured by central site monitoring and potentially contribute a significant proportion of an urban commuter's total daily exposure. Therefore, it is of value to assess personal exposure levels of TRAP in the urban transport methods of several Canadian major metropolitans.

As part of the Urban Transport Exposure Study (UTES), Health Canada measured personal exposures to TRAP in several Canadian metropolitan transit environments from 2010-2013. The following traffic pollutants were examined:

  • fine particulate matter (PM2.5)
  • coarse and fine particulate matter (PM10)
  • ultrafine particles (UFPs)
  • black carbon (BC), and 
  • several PM-associated elements

In both winter and summer, data were collected by technicians in private cars (Montreal,QC; Toronto, ON; Vancouver, BC), light rail transit (Montreal,QC; Toronto, ON; Vancouver, BC) and bus transit (Ottawa, ON; Toronto, ON; Vancouver, BC).

More than 250 hours of personal exposure was monitored in each combination of transit method, city and season. These data will be used to support risk assessments of TRAP and the development of personal exposure models specific to the type of transit. This presentation focused on the study results, the ongoing development of personal exposure models and future uses of the UTES dataset.


Keith Van Ryswyk
Scientific Project Coordinator, Health Canada

Keith Van Ryswyk joined the Air Health Science Division of Health Canada's Water and Air Quality Bureau in February 2005 and has since been conducting air pollution research in a federal regulatory environment. For the past nine years, he has worked in the facilitation, analysis, and communication of research studies in air pollution exposure science. The purpose of this research has been twofold; to address research questions in the field of air pollution exposure science and to provide exposure data which contribute to the division's risk assessments of criteria air pollutants and indoor air quality guidelines. This research has involved community based personal, indoor and outdoor air pollution exposure assessments in several cities across Canada. These studies have been designed to address research gaps in the understanding of the predictors of indoor air pollutants, air exchange and infiltration. His research interests include the use and validation of air pollution measurement methodologies, the measurement of residential air exchange using the PFT tracer gas method and understanding factors affecting personal air pollution exposure. His current research has focused on assessing the landscape of exposures to which Canadian commuters are exposed and the development of models with which they can be predicted for use in air pollution epidemiology.

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