Fine particulate matter exposure in four transport modes of Greater Cairo

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Construction Engineering Department

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Rana Alaa Abbass; Prashant Kumar; Ahmed El-Gendy

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

The Science of the total environment

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The number of daily commuters in Greater Cairo has exceeded 15 million nevertheless personal exposure studies in transport microenvironments are limited. The aim of this study is to quantify PM exposure during peak hours in four transport modes of Greater Cairo - car (windows-open, windows-closed with recirculation and AC-on), microbus (windows-open), cycling and walking - and understand its underlying drivers. Data was collected using a pDR-1500 monitor and analysed to capture concentration variations, spatial variability, exposure doses, commuting costs versus inhaled doses, health burden and economic losses. Car with recirculation resulted in the least average PM concentrations (32 ± 6 μg/m), followed by walking (77 ± 35 μg/m), car with windows-open (82 ± 32 μg/m), microbus with windows-open (96 ± 29 μg/m) and cycling (100 ± 28 μg/m). Evening hours observed average PM concentrations by 26-58% lesser than morning. Spatial variability analysis showed that 75th-90th percentile PM concentrations coincided with congested spots. Cycling and walking lanes are rare hence commuters are exposed to surges in PM concentrations when passing near construction and solid waste burning sites. Cycling and walking also resulted in inhaling 40-times and 32-times higher PM dose per kilometre than for car with recirculation. Commuting by microbus cost (with windows-open) ~45% of car cost (with recirculation) but it resulted in 4-times higher inhaled PM dose. As expected due to the lowest PM exposure concentrations, health burden resulting from car travel (with recirculation) caused the least death rates of 0.07 (95% CI 0.07-0.08) prematures deaths per 100,000 commuters/year while microbus with windows-open resulted in the highest death rates; 0.52 (95% CI 0.49-0.56). Microbus deaths represent 57% of national economic losses due to PM exposure amongst the four transport modes. This study provides real-time exposure data and analyses its implications on commuter health as a first step in informed decision-making and better urban planning.

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