Environmental science & technology

Wearable Sensors for Personal Monitoring and Estimation of Inhaled Traffic-Related Air Pollution: Evaluation of Methods.

PMID 28080048


Physical activity and ventilation rates have an effect on an individual's dose and may be important to consider in exposure-response relationships; however, these factors are often ignored in environmental epidemiology studies. The aim of this study was to evaluate methods of estimating the inhaled dose of air pollution and understand variability in the absence of a true gold standard metric. Five types of methods were identified: (1) methods using (physical) activity types, (2) methods based on energy expenditure, METs (metabolic equivalents of task), and oxygen consumption, (3) methods based on heart rate or (4) breathing rate, and (5) methods that combine heart and breathing rate. Methods were compared using a real-life data set of 122 adults who wore devices to track movement, black carbon air pollution, and physiological health markers for 3 weeks in three European cities. Different methods for estimating minute ventilation performed well in relative terms with high correlations among different methods, but in absolute terms, ignoring increased ventilation during day-to-day activities could lead to an underestimation of the daily dose by a factor of 0.08-1.78. There is no single best method, and a multitude of methods are currently being used to approximate the dose. The choice of a suitable method for determining the dose in future studies will depend on both the size and the objectives of the study.