Modeling temporal and spatial variability of traffic-related air pollution: Hourly land use regression models for black carbon
Land use regression (LUR) modeling is a statistical technique used to determine exposure to air pollutants in epidemiological studies. Time-activity diaries can be combined with LUR models, enabling detailed exposure estimation and limiting exposure misclassification, both in shorter and longer time lags. In this study, the traffic related air pollutant black carbon was measured with μ-aethalometers on a 5-min time base at 63 locations in Flanders, Belgium. The measurements show that hourly concentrations vary between different locations, but also over the day. Furthermore the diurnal pattern is different for street and background locations. This suggests that annual LUR models are not sufficient to capture all the variation. Hourly LUR models for black carbon are developed using different strategies: by means of dummy variables, with dynamic dependent variables and/or with dynamic and static independent variables. The LUR model with 48 dummies (weekday hours and weekend hours) performs not as good as the annual model (explained variance of 0.44 compared to 0.77 in the annual model). The dataset with hourly concentrations of black carbon can be used to recalibrate the annual model, resulting in many of the original explaining variables losing their statistical significance, and certain variables having the wrong direction of effect. Building new independent hourly models, with static or dynamic covariates, is proposed as the best solution to solve these issues. R2 values for hourly LUR models are mostly smaller than the R2 of the annual model, ranging from 0.07 to 0.8. Between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on weekdays the R2 approximates the annual model R2. Even though models of consecutive hours are developed independently, similar variables turn out to be significant. Using dynamic covariates instead of static covariates, i.e. hourly traffic intensities and hourly population densities, did not significantly improve the models' performance.