Passive measurement of nitrogen oxides to assess traffic-related pollutant exposure for the East Bay Children's Respiratory Health Study
The East Bay Children's Respiratory Health Study is examining associations between traffic-related pollutant exposures and respiratory health among children who reside and attend schools at varied proximity to northern California freeways. Chronic exposures are being inferred from outdoor pollutant concentrations at neighborhood schools. This paper reports primarily weeklong integrated NO2 and NOX concentrations measured with passive samplers placed outside at 10 elementary schools during 14 weeks in spring and 8 weeks in fall 2001. Measurements were also made outside selected student residences to examine spatial variability within three school neighborhoods. Regional concentrations of NO2 and NOX varied widely from week to week. School site data were normalized to measurements at a nearby regional monitoring station to facilitate analysis of relative pollutant exposures at the neighborhood schools. Normalized concentrations were consistent at each school throughout the study. Schools located upwind or far downwind of freeways were generally indistinguishable from one another and regional pollution levels. For school and neighborhood sites within 350 m downwind of a freeway, concentrations increased with decreasing downwind distance. The highest normalized concentrations occurred at a school located directly adjacent to a major freeway and a shopping center. In this case, normalized NO2 and NOX were ∼60% and ∼100% higher than regional background levels. At three schools within 130–230 m downwind of a freeway, normalized NO2 and NOX were ∼20–30% and ∼50–80% higher than regional levels. Validation testing of the passive samplers indicated precision of better than 5% for both NO2 and NOX when samplers were deployed outside for 1-week periods. Passive sampler results agreed with co-located chemiluminescence measurements to within 8% for NO2 and 3% for NOX.