Soot Study

Although this appears to be an ordinary backpack that probably includes lunch, shoes and whatnot for this urban commuter in Sacramento, California it is actually a specially engineered instrument that includes what are described by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as “state-of-the-science pollution sensors.” This gent, as well as other volunteers who took other forms of transport to work, were equipped with these backpacks that allowed the measurement of particulate pollutants (e.g., PM 2.5 particles, black carbon, and ultrafine particles—soot you can’t necessarily see, but which you can inhale). Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter: CARB calculates that some 7,200 premature deaths, 1,900 hospitalizations and 5,200 emergency room visits per year are predicated on PM 2.5 exposure (from all sources). The objective of the study was to determine the effects of air pollution on commuters.

Although this appears to be an ordinary backpack that probably includes lunch, shoes and whatnot for this urban commuter in Sacramento, California

backpack

it is actually a specially engineered instrument that includes what are described by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as “state-of-the-science pollution sensors.”

This gent, as well as other volunteers who took other forms of transport to work, were equipped with these backpacks that allowed the measurement of particulate pollutants (e.g., PM 2.5 particles, black carbon, and ultrafine particles—soot you can’t necessarily see, but which you can inhale).

Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t matter: CARB calculates that some 7,200 premature deaths, 1,900 hospitalizations and 5,200 emergency room visits per year are predicated on PM 2.5 exposure (from all sources).

The objective of the study was to determine the effects of air pollution on commuters. The metric they used was air pollution exposure per mile.

Not surprisingly, light rail riders had the least exposure per mile, while people who took older-tech diesel-powered trains had the greatest amounts of exposure.

As for bicyclists, on the one hand there are the health benefits of riding, but then there is the downside of probably pedaling a whole lot longer than someone riding in a train or car. CARB suggests that riders use dedicated bicycle pathways that are away from roads, as that can reduce pollutant exposure by 15 to 75 percent.

To reduce exposure to the various soot types by as much as 75 percent, they recommend that drivers operate their air conditioners set on “recirculate.”