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Greater nitrogen dioxide concentrations at child versus adult breathing heights close to urban main road kerbside

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-595
Number of pages7
JournalAir Quality, Atmosphere and Health
Issue number6
Early online date15 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Nitrogen dioxide (NO<inf>2</inf>) is a ubiquitous air pollutant with high concentrations particularly close to main roads. The focus of this study was on possible differences in NO<inf>2</inf> concentrations between adult and child heights as a function of different distances from heavily trafficked roads in urban areas. Passive diffusion tubes were used to measure NO<inf>2</inf> concentrations at heights of 0.8 m (approximate inhalation height of children and closer to vehicle exhaust height) and 2.0 m (approximate inhalation height of adults) above the ground at a number of locations and over several weeks in the city of Edinburgh, UK. Evidence for significant differences in NO<inf>2</inf> between heights was observed up to at least 1.2 m from kerbside of busy roads, with tubes at 0.8 m measuring concentrations 5–15 % (a few μg m<sup>−3</sup>) greater than at 2.0 m. The vertical NO<inf>2</inf> concentration difference was not observable at distances 2.5 m or greater from the kerbside. Fitting of horizontal transects of NO<inf>2</inf> concentrations away from main roads demonstrated the strong influence of wind speed in yielding faster fall-off in NO<inf>2</inf> concentration from the roadside, and in near-ground vertical gradient in NO<inf>2</inf>, and lower background NO<inf>2</inf> concentrations. These observations have potential public health implications for differential NO<inf>2</inf> exposures between children walking, or in buggies, close to heavily trafficked urban roads compared with adults.

    Research areas

  • Air pollution, Child, Exposure, Nitrogen dioxide, Passive sampler, Urban traffic

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