Modelling urban cyclists' exposure to black carbon particles using high spatiotemporal data: A statistical approach.


Federal University of Technology, Graduate Program in Environmental Engineering, Apucarana-Londrina, Brazil. Electronic address: [Email]


This is a pioneering work in South America to model the exposure of cyclists to black carbon (BC) while riding in an urban area with high spatiotemporal variability of BC concentrations. We report on mobile BC concentrations sampled on 10 biking sessions in the city of Curitiba (Brazil), during rush hours of weekdays, covering four routes and totaling 178 km. Moreover, simultaneous BC measurements were conducted within a street canyon (street and rooftop levels) and at a site located 13 km from the city center. We used two statistical approaches to model the BC concentrations: multiple linear regression (MLR) and a machine-learning technique called random forests (RF). A pool of 25 candidate variables was created, including pollution measurements, traffic characteristics, street geometry and meteorology. The aggregated mean BC concentration within 30-m buffers along the four routes was 7.09 μg m-3, with large spatial variability (5th and 95th percentiles of 1.75 and 16.83 μg m-3, respectively). On average, the concentrations at the street canyon façade (5 m height) were lower than the mobile data but higher than the urban background levels. The MLR model explained a low percentage of variance (24%), but was within the values found in the literature for on-road BC mobile data. RF explained a larger variance (54%) with the additional advantage of having lower requirements for the target and predictor variables. The most impactful predictor for both models was the traffic rate of heavy-duty vehicles. Thus, to reduce the BC exposure of cyclists and residents living close to busy streets, we emphasize the importance of renewing and/or retrofitting the diesel-powered fleet, particularly public buses with old vehicle technologies. Urban planners could also use this valuable information to project bicycle lanes with greater separation from the circulation of heavy-duty diesel vehicles.


Land-use regression,Machine-learning techniques,Multiple linear regression,Random forests,Short-lived climate pollutants,Transport modes,

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