A regression-based method for mapping traffic-related air pollution: application and testing in four contrasting urban environments

Sci Total Environ. 2000 May 15;253(1-3):151-67. doi: 10.1016/s0048-9697(00)00429-0.


Accurate, high-resolution maps of traffic-related air pollution are needed both as a basis for assessing exposures as part of epidemiological studies, and to inform urban air-quality policy and traffic management. This paper assesses the use of a GIS-based, regression mapping technique to model spatial patterns of traffic-related air pollution. The model--developed using data from 80 passive sampler sites in Huddersfield, as part of the SAVIAH (Small Area Variations in Air Quality and Health) project--uses data on traffic flows and land cover in the 300-m buffer zone around each site, and altitude of the site, as predictors of NO2 concentrations. It was tested here by application in four urban areas in the UK: Huddersfield (for the year following that used for initial model development), Sheffield, Northampton, and part of London. In each case, a GIS was built in ArcInfo, integrating relevant data on road traffic, urban land use and topography. Monitoring of NO2 was undertaken using replicate passive samplers (in London, data were obtained from surveys carried out as part of the London network). In Huddersfield, Sheffield and Northampton, the model was first calibrated by comparing modelled results with monitored NO2 concentrations at 10 randomly selected sites; the calibrated model was then validated against data from a further 10-28 sites. In London, where data for only 11 sites were available, validation was not undertaken. Results showed that the model performed well in all cases. After local calibration, the model gave estimates of mean annual NO2 concentrations within a factor of 1.5 of the actual mean (approx. 70-90%) of the time and within a factor of 2 between 70 and 100% of the time. r2 values between modelled and observed concentrations are in the range of 0.58-0.76. These results are comparable to those achieved by more sophisticated dispersion models. The model also has several advantages over dispersion modelling. It is able, for example, to provide high-resolution maps across a whole urban area without the need to interpolate between receptor points. It also offers substantially reduced costs and processing times compared to formal dispersion modelling. It is concluded that the model might thus be used as a means of mapping long-term air pollution concentrations either in support of local authority air-quality management strategies, or in epidemiological studies.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution / analysis*
  • Automobiles*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Environmental Monitoring / methods*
  • Environmental Monitoring / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Random Allocation
  • United Kingdom
  • Urban Health* / statistics & numerical data


  • Air Pollutants