Personal and ambient exposures to air toxics in Camden, New Jersey.

Journal Article

Personal exposures and ambient concentrations of air toxics were characterized in a pollution "hot spot" and an urban reference site, both in Camden, New Jersey. The hot spot was the city's Waterfront South neighborhood; the reference site was a neighborhood, about 1 km to the east, around the intersection of Copewood and Davis streets. Using personal exposure measurements, residential ambient air measurements, statistical analyses, and exposure modeling, we examined the impact of local industrial and mobile pollution sources, particularly diesel trucks, on personal exposures and ambient concentrations in the two neighborhoods. Presented in the report are details of our study design, sample and data collection methods, data- and model-analysis approaches, and results and key findings of the study. In summary, 107 participants were recruited from nonsmoking households, including 54 from Waterfront South and 53 from the Copewood-Davis area. Personal air samples were collected for 24 hr and measured for 32 target compounds--11 volatile organic compounds (VOCs*), four aldehydes, 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and particulate matter (PM) with an aerodynamic diameter < or = 2.5 microm (PM2.5). Simultaneously with the personal monitoring, ambient concentrations of the target compounds were measured at two fixed monitoring sites, one each in the Waterfront South and Copewood-Davis neighborhoods. To understand the potential impact of local sources of air toxics on personal exposures caused by temporal (weekdays versus weekend days) and seasonal (summer versus winter) variations in source intensities of the air toxics, four measurements were made of each subject, two in summer and two in winter. Within each season, one measurement was made on a weekday and the other on a weekend day. A baseline questionnaire and a time diary with an activity questionnaire were administered to each participant in order to obtain information that could be used to understand personal exposure to specific air toxics measured during each sampling period. Given the number of emission sources of air toxics in Waterfront South, a spatial variation study consisting of three saturation-sampling campaigns was conducted to characterize the spatial distribution of VOCs and aldehydes in the two neighborhoods. Passive samplers were used to collect VOC and aldehyde samples for 24- and 48-hr sampling periods simultaneously at 22 and 16 grid-based sampling sites in Waterfront South and Copewood-Davis, respectively. Results showed that measured ambient concentrations of some target pollutants (mean +/- standard deviation [SD]), such as PM2.5 (31.3 +/- 12.5 microg/m3), toluene (4.24 +/- 5.23 microg/m3), and benzo[a]pyrene (0.36 +/- 0.45 ng/m3), were significantly higher (P < 0.05) in Waterfront South than in Copewood-Davis, where the concentrations of PM2.5, toluene, and benzo[a]pyrene were 25.3 +/- 11.9 microg/m3, 2.46 +/- 3.19 microg/m3, and 0.21 +/- 0.26 ng/m3, respectively. High concentrations of specific air toxics, such as 60 microg/m3 for toluene and 159 microg/m3 for methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), were also found in areas close to local stationary sources in Waterfront South during the saturation-sampling campaigns. Greater spatial variation in benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (known collectively as BTEX) as well as of MTBE was observed in Waterfront South than in Copewood-Davis during days with low wind speed. These observations indicated the significant impact of local emission sources of these pollutants and possibly of other pollutants emitted by individual source types on air pollution in Waterfront South. (Waterfront South is a known hot spot for these pollutants.) There were no significant differences between Waterfront South and Copewood-Davis in mean concentrations of benzene or MTBE, although some stationary sources of the two compounds have been reported in Waterfront South. Further, a good correlation (R > 0.6) was found between benzene and MTBE in both locations. These results suggest that automobile exhausts were the main contributors to benzene and MTBE air pollution in both neighborhoods. Formaldehyde and acetaldehyde concentrations were found to be high in both neighborhoods. Mean (+/- SD) concentrations of formaldehyde were 20.2 +/- 19.5 microg/m3 in Waterfront South and 24.8 +/- 20.8 microg/m3 in Copewood-Davis. A similar trend was observed for the two compounds during the saturation-sampling campaigns. The results indicate that mobile sources (i.e., diesel trucks) had a large impact on formaldehyde and acetaldehyde concentrations in both neighborhoods and that both are aldehyde hot spots. The study also showed that PM2.5, aldehydes, BTEX, and MTBE concentrations in both Waterfront South and Copewood-Davis were higher than ambient background concentrations in New Jersey and than national average concentrations, indicating that both neighborhoods are in fact hot spots for these pollutants. Higher concentrations were observed on weekdays than on weekend days for several compounds, including toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (known collectively as TEX) as well as PAHs and PM2.5. These observations showed the impact on ambient air pollution of higher traffic volumes and more active industrial and commercial operations in the study areas on weekdays. Seasonal variations differed by species. Concentrations of TEX, for example, were found to be higher in winter than in summer in both locations, possibly because of higher emission rates from automobiles and reduced photochemical reactivity in winter. In contrast, concentrations of MTBE were found to be significantly higher in summer than in winter in both locations, possibly because of higher evaporation rates from gasoline in summer. Similarly, concentrations of heavier PAHs, such as benzo[a]pyrene, were found to be higher in winter in both locations, possibly because of higher emission rates from mobile sources, the use of home heating, and the reduced photochemical reactivity of benzo[a]pyrene in winter. In contrast, concentrations of lighter PAHs were found to be higher in summer in both locations, possibly because of volatilization of these compounds from various surfaces in summer. In addition, higher concentrations of formaldehyde were observed in summer than in winter, possibly because of significant contributions from photochemical reactions to formaldehyde air pollution in summer. Personal concentrations of toluene (25.4 +/- 13.5 microg/m3) and acrolein (1.78 +/- 3.7 microg/m3) in Waterfront South were found to be higher than those in the Copewood-Davis neighborhood (13.1 +/- 15.3 microg/m3 for toluene and 1.27 +/- 2.36 microg/m3 for acrolein). However, personal concentrations for most of the other compounds measured in Waterfront South were found to be similar to or lower than those than in Copewood-Davis. (For example, mean +/- SD concentrations were 4.58 +/- 17.3 microg/m3 for benzene, 4.06 +/- 5.32 microg/m3 for MTBE, 16.8 +/- 15.5 microg/m3 for formaldehyde, and 0.40 +/- 0.94 ng/m3 for benzo[a]pyrene in Waterfront South and 9.19 +/- 34.0 microg/m3 for benzene, 6.22 +/- 19.0 microg/m3 for MTBE, 16.0 +/- 16.7 microg/m3 for formaldehyde, and 0.42 +/- 1.08 ng/m3 for benzo[a]pyrene in Copewood-Davis.) This was probably because many of the target compounds had both outdoor and indoor sources. The higher personal concentrations of these compounds in Copewood-Davis might have resulted in part from higher exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) of subjects from Copewood-Davis. The Spearman correlation coefficient (R) was found to be high for pollutants with significant outdoor sources. The R's for MTBE and carbon tetrachloride, for example, were > 0.65 in both Waterfront South and Copewood-Davis. The R's were moderate or low (0.3-0.6) for compounds with both outdoor and indoor sources, such as BTEX and formaldehyde. A weaker association (R < 0.5) was found for compounds with significant indoor sources, such as BTEX, formaldehyde, PAHs, and PM2.5. The correlations between personal and ambient concentrations of MTBE and BTEX were found to be stronger in Waterfront South than in Copewood-Davis, reflecting the significant impact of local air pollution sources on personal exposure to these pollutants in Waterfront South. Emission-based ambient concentrations of benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde and contributions of ambient exposure to personal concentrations of these three compounds were modeled using atmospheric dispersion modeling and Individual Based Exposure Modeling (IBEM) software, respectively, which were coupled for analysis in the Modeling Environment for Total Risk (MENTOR) system. The compounds were associated with the three types of dominant sources in the two neighborhoods: industrial sources (toluene), exhaust from gasoline-powered motor vehicles (benzene), and exhaust from diesel-powered motor vehicles (formaldehyde). Subsequently, both the calculated and measured ambient concentrations of each of the three compounds were separately combined with the time diaries and activity questionnaires completed by the subjects as inputs to IBEM-MENTOR for estimating personal exposures from ambient sources. Modeled ambient concentrations of benzene and toluene were generally in agreement with the measured ambient concentrations within a factor of two, but the values were underestimated at the high-end percentiles. The major local (neighborhood) contributors to ambient benzene concentrations were from mobile sources in the study areas; both mobile and stationary (point and area) sources contributed to the ambient toluene concentrations. This finding can be used as guidance for developing better emission inventories to characterize, through modeling, the ambient concentrations of air toxics in the study areas. (ABSTRACT TRUNCATED)

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lioy, PJ; Fan, Z; Zhang, J; Georgopoulos, P; Wang, S-W; Ohman-Strickland, P; Wu, X; Zhu, X; Harrington, J; Tang, X; Meng, Q; Jung, KH; Kwon, J; Hernandez, M; Bonnano, L; Held, J; Neal, J; HEI Health Review Committee,

Published Date

  • August 2011

Published In

Start / End Page

  • 3 - 127

PubMed ID

  • 22097188

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1041-5505


  • eng