A Wide Area of Air Pollutant Impact Downwind of a Freeway during Pre-Sunrise Hours
Shishan Hu(1,2), Scott Fruin(3), Kathleen Kozawa (1), Steve Mara (1), Suzanne E. Paulson (2) Arthur M. Winer (2),
(1) California Air Resources Board (2) University of California, Los Angeles (3) University of Southern California
Abstract Number: 359
Preference: Platform Presentation
Last modified: November 9, 2009
Working Group: sq1
We have observed a wide area of air pollutant impact downwind and upwind of a freeway during pre-sunrise hours in both winter and summer seasons; elevated air pollutant concentrations were observed extending to about 2000 m downwind and 600 m upwind. In contrast, previous studies have shown much sharper air pollutant gradients downwind of freeways, with levels above background concentrations extending only about 300 m downwind of roadways during the day and up to 500 m at night.
Real-time air pollutant concentrations were measured along a 3 600 m transect normal to an elevated freeway 1-2 hours before sunrise using an electric vehicle mobile platform equipped with fast-response instruments. In winter pre-sunrise hours, the peak ultrafine particle (UFP) concentration (~95000 cm-3) occurred immediately downwind of the freeway. However, downwind UFP concentrations as high as ~ 40000 cm-3 extended at least 1200 m from the freeway, and did not reach background levels (~15000 cm-3) until a distance of about 2600 m. UFP concentrations were also elevated over background levels up to 600 m upwind of the freeway. Other pollutants, such as NO and particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, exhibited similar long-distance downwind concentration gradients. In contrast, air pollutant concentrations measured on the same route after sunrise, in the morning and afternoon, exhibited the typical daytime downwind decrease to background levels within ~300 m as found in earlier studies.
Although pre-sunrise traffic volumes on the freeway were much lower than daytime congestion peaks, downwind UFP concentrations were significantly higher during pre-sunrise hours than during the daytime; UFP and NO concentrations were also strongly correlated with traffic counts on the freeway. We associate these elevated pre-sunrise concentrations over a wide area with a nocturnal surface temperature inversion, low wind speeds, and high relative humidity.
Observation of a wide air pollutant impact area downwind of a major roadway prior to sunrise has important exposure assessment implications since it demonstrates extensive roadway impacts on residential areas during pre-sunrise hours, when most people are at home.