The effects of the built environment, traffic patterns, and micrometeorology on street level ultrafine particle concentrations at a block scale: Results from multiple urban sites

The effects of the built environment, traffic patterns, and micrometeorology on street level ultrafine particle concentrations at a block scale: Results from multiple urban sites

W. Choi, D. Ranasinghe, K. Bunavage, J.R. DeShazo, L. Wu, R. Seguel, A.M. Winer, S.E. Paulson

This study attempts to explain explicitly the direct and quantitative effects of complicated urban builtenvironmenton near-road dispersion and levels of vehicular emissions at the scale of several city blocks, based on ultrafine particle concentrations ([UFP]). On short timescales, ultrafine particles are an excellent proxy for other roadway emissions. Five measurement sites in the greater Los Angeles with different built environments but similar mesoscale meteorology were explored. After controlling for traffic, for most sampling days and sites, morning [UFP] were higher than those in the afternoon due to limited dispersion capacity combined with a relatively stable surface layer. [UFP] at the intersection corners were also higher than those over the sampling sites, implying that accelerating vehicles around the intersections contributed to [UFP] elevation. In the calm morning, the areal aspect ratio (Ararea), developed in this study for real urban configurations, showed a strong relationship with block-scale [UFP]. Ararea includes the building area-weighted building height, the amount of open space, and the building footprint. In the afternoon, however, when wind speeds were generally higher and turbulence was stronger, vertical turbulence intensity σw was the most effective factor controlling[UFP]. The surrounding built environment appears to play an indirect role in observed [UFP], by affecting surface level micrometeorology. The effects are substantial; controlling for traffic, differences in Ararea and building heterogeneity were related to differences in [UFP] of factors of two to three among our five study sites. These results have significant implications for pedestrian exposure as well as transit-oriented urban planning.