Particle concentrations in urban microenvironments

Environ Health Perspect. 2000 Nov;108(11):1051-7. doi: 10.1289/ehp.108-1240162.


Although ambient particulate matter has been associated with a range of health outcomes, the health risks for individuals depend in part on their daily activities. Information about particle mass concentrations and size distributions in indoor and outdoor microenvironments can help identify high-risk individuals and the significant contributors to personal exposure. To address these issues in an urban setting, we measured particle count concentrations in four size ranges and particulate matter (3/4) 10 microm (PM(10)) concentrations outdoors and in seven indoor microenvironments in Boston, Massachusetts. Particle counts and PM(10) concentrations were continuously measured with two light-scattering devices. Because of the autocorrelation between sequential measurements, we used linear mixed effects models with an AR-1 autoregressive correlation structure to evaluate whether differences between microenvironments were statistically significant. In general, larger particles were elevated in the vicinity of significant human activity, and smaller particles were elevated in the vicinity of combustion sources, with indoor PM(10) concentrations significantly higher than the outdoors on buses and trolleys. Statistical models demonstrated significant variability among some indoor microenvironments, with greater variability for smaller particles. These findings imply that personal exposures can depend on activity patterns and that microenvironmental concentration information can improve the accuracy of personal exposure estimation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Boston
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Particle Size
  • Urban Health


  • Air Pollutants