Emulating Near-Roadway Exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution via Real-Time Emissions from a Major Freeway Tunnel System

Keith J. Bein, Chris D. Wallis, Jill L. Silverman, Pamela J. Lein, Anthony Stein Wexler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Epidemiological and toxicological studies continue to demonstrate correlative and causal relationships between exposure to traffic-related air pollution and various metrics of adverse pulmonary, cardiovascular, and neurological health effects. The key challenge for in vivo studies is replicating real-world, near-roadway exposure dynamics in laboratory animal models that mimic true human exposures. The advantage of animal models is the accelerated time scales to show statistically significant physiological and/or behavioral response. This work describes a novel exposure facility adjacent to a major freeway tunnel system that provides a platform for real-time chronic exposure studies. The primary conclusion is that particulate matter (PM) concentrations at this facility are routinely well below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), but studies completed to date still demonstrate significant neurological and cardiovascular effects. Internal combustion engines produce large numbers of ultrafine particles that contribute negligible mass to the atmosphere relative to NAAQS regulated PM2.5 but have high surface area and mobility in the body. It is posited here that current federal and state air quality standards are thus insufficient to fully protect human health, most notably the developing and aging brain, due to regulatory gaps for ultrafine particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • chronic inhalation exposure
  • freeway tunnel systems
  • health effects of air pollution
  • near-roadway exposure
  • real-time exposure studies
  • traffic related air pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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