The mobile source effect on curbside 1,3-butadiene, benzene, and particle-bound polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons assessed at a tollbooth

J Air Waste Manag Assoc. 2003 Jun;53(6):740-8. doi: 10.1080/10473289.2003.10466212.


On-road mobile sources contribute substantially to ambient air concentrations of the carcinogens 1,3-butadiene, benzene, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The current study measured benzene and 1,3-butadiene at the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel tollbooth over 3-hr intervals on seven weekdays (n = 56). Particle-bound PAH was measured on a subset of three days. The 3-hr outdoor 1,3-butadiene levels varied according to time of day and traffic volume. The minimum occurred at night (12 a.m.-3 a.m.) with a mean of 2 microg/m3 (SD = 1.3, n = 7), while the maximum occurred during the morning rush hour (6 a.m.-9 a.m.) with a mean of 11.9 microg/m3 (SD = 4.6, n = 7). The corresponding traffic counts were 1413 (SD = 144) and 16,893 (SD = 692), respectively. During the same intervals, mean benzene concentration varied from 3 microg/m3 (SD = 3.1, n = 7) to 22.3 microg/m3 (SD = 7.6, n = 7). Median PAH concentrations ranged from 9 to 199 ng/m3. Using multivariate regression, a significant association (p < 0.001) between traffic and curbside concentration was observed. Much of the pollutant variability (1,3-butadiene 62%, benzene 77%, and PAH 85%) was explained by traffic volume, class, and meteorology. Results suggest > 2-axle vehicles emit 60, 32, and 9 times more PAH, 1,3-butadiene, and benzene, respectively, than do 2-axle vehicles. This study provides a model for estimating curbside pollution levels associated with traffic that may be relevant to exposures in the urban environment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Benzene / analysis*
  • Butadienes / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Pollutants / analysis*
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons / analysis*
  • United States
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency


  • Butadienes
  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons
  • Benzene
  • 1,3-butadiene