Personal and outdoor nitrogen dioxide concentrations in relation to degree of urbanization and traffic density

Environ Health Perspect. 2001 Jun;109 Suppl 3(Suppl 3):411-7. doi: 10.1289/ehp.01109s3411.


To assess differences in exposure to air pollution from traffic in relation to degree of urbanization and traffic density, we measured personal and home outdoor nitrogen dioxide (NO(2)) concentrations for 241 children from six different primary schools in the Netherlands. Three schools were situated in areas with varying degrees of urbanization (very urban, fairly urban, and nonurban) and three other schools were located near highways with varying traffic density (very busy, fairly busy, and not busy). Weekly averaged measurements were conducted during four different seasons. Simultaneously, indoor and outdoor measurements were conducted at the schools. Personal and outdoor NO(2) concentrations differed significantly among children attending schools in areas with different degrees of urbanization and among children attending schools in areas close to highways with different traffic densities. For the children living near highways, personal and outdoor NO(2) concentrations also significantly decreased with increasing distance of the home address to the highway. Differences in personal exposures between children from the different schools remained present and significant after adjusting for indoor sources of NO(2). This study has shown that personal and outdoor NO(2) concentrations are influenced significantly by the degree of urbanization of the city district and by the traffic density of and distance to a nearby highway. Because NO(2) can be considered a marker for air pollution from traffic, the more easily measured variables degree of urbanization, traffic density, and distance to a nearby highway can all be used to estimate exposure to traffic-related air pollution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution / analysis*
  • Child
  • Cities
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nitrogen Dioxide / analysis*
  • Urban Population
  • Vehicle Emissions*


  • Vehicle Emissions
  • Nitrogen Dioxide