Small-scale spatial variability of particle concentrations and traffic levels in Montreal: a pilot study

Sci Total Environ. 2005 Feb 15;338(3):243-51. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2004.07.013.


Little is known about the particulate exposure of populations living along major urban roads. The objective of this pilot study was to explore the small-scale spatial and temporal variability of the absorption coefficient of PM2.5 filters, as a surrogate for elemental carbon, in relation to levels of PM2.5, at residential sites with varying traffic densities in a large Canadian city. Concurrent 24-h measurements were performed at four residential sites during 7 weeks. A gradient existed across all four sites for the absorption coefficient of the filters (and NO2 levels). In contrast, the levels of PM2.5 were quite similar at all sites. The difference in the filter absorption coefficient of PM2.5 filters, between an urban background and a residential traffic site (with about 30000 vehicles/day), expressed as a percentage of the background site, was 40%. These results indicate that spatial variability in PM2.5 absorption coefficient can be observed with traffic intensity on a small scale within a North American city and suggests that regression modelling approaches similar to those used in European studies could be used to estimate exposure of the general population to traffic-related particles on a local scale in North America.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Filtration
  • Humans
  • Particle Size
  • Quebec
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Vehicle Emissions