The link between on-road traffic and air pollution is well-known, as are the negative health impacts of pollution exposure. However, the many factors that may influence commuters’ exposure to pollutants – such as frequency, time, and duration of commute – and the overall impact of commuting remains a matter of on-going scientific discovery.

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Dr. Jenna Krall, assistant professor at the George Mason University College of Health and Human Services, is using statistical methods to better understand exposure to air pollution. Krall studies how commuting patterns impact exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from various traffic-related sources such as tailpipe emissions, road salts, and brake wear.

New research from Krall and colleagues published in Environmental Research examines commuter characteristics to better understand how factors such as departure time, commute length, and number of trips are associated with exposure to PM2.5. Building on a study of 46 women’s exposure to PM2.5 using personal air pollution monitors, the new research clustered commuters to determine whether these clusters were associated with traffic pollution exposures.

As COVID-19 infection rates decline in most areas of the country and employers weigh whether to continue work-from-home policies, studies such as this provide important insight into the role that daily commutes can play in personal air pollution exposure and the public’s health.

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