2016 Progress Report: Evaluating the Timeline of Particulate Matter Exposure from Urban Transportation and Land-Use Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Strategies Using a Novel Modeling Framework

EPA Grant Number: R835885
Title: Evaluating the Timeline of Particulate Matter Exposure from Urban Transportation and Land-Use Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Strategies Using a Novel Modeling Framework
Investigators: Rowangould, Gregory
Institution: University of New Mexico
EPA Project Officer: Keating, Terry
Project Period: January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2018
Project Period Covered by this Report: January 1, 2016 through December 31,2016
Project Amount: $335,605
RFA: Particulate Matter and Related Pollutants in a Changing World (2014) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Air , Climate Change


The aim of the proposed research is creating a clearer picture of how changes in land-use patterns and transportation systems affect population exposure to particulate matter (PM) pollution from vehicle traffic. The research also aims to understand how the timing of land-use and transportation system changes, particularly those strategies intended to mitigate climate change, affect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and cumulative exposure to PM emissions. Finally, the research will consider how well changes in PM emission inventories, which are widely used to assess improvements in air quality, correspond to changes in PM exposure.

Progress Summary:

We have completed two tasks that were the main milestones for the first year of this project. These tasks involved acquiring models and data necessary for completing this project. This includes travel demand and land-use models from the Mid Region Council of Governments (MRCOG—the Albuquerque metropolitan area planning organization) as well as travel demand and land-use model outputs from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC—the Atlanta metropolitan area planning organization). The models and data are very complex and required significant effort to set up and ensure their functionality in our research lab.

We also have obtained some preliminary data from the next two project tasks, which we expect to complete within the next 1–2 months. These tasks include modeling exposure to PM emissions from vehicle exhaust based on transportation and land-use planning scenarios provided to the research team by MRCOG and ARC. The scenarios provided by MRCOG will serve as a baseline for additional scenarios that the research team will create to learn how changes in the transportation system and land-use affect PM exposure and GHG emissions. Preliminary results find complex non-linear trends in the Albuquerque region’s PM and GHG emissions overtime that have not previously been seen using traditional modeling approaches that only consider a single base year and distant future year planning horizon. Our next modeling tasks seek to understand how these non-linear trends, combined with the movement of the population over time, affect PM exposure and GHG emissions; what strategies or factors can minimize these; and what strategies or factors can increase them.

The scenarios provided by ARC, which were generated using an activity-based travel model, are being evaluated by the research team to understand how the differing travel patterns of individuals in the metropolitan area affect their PM exposure and how this changes over time. Initial results indicate that accounting for the daily travel patterns of individuals produces significantly higher regional population exposure estimates compared to a method that assumes all exposure occurs near a person’s home address, which is a common modeling assumption. Preliminary results also indicate that commuting is responsible for a significant portion of a person’s total daily vehicle exhaust PM exposure.

Future Activities:

Over the next year, we expect to complete the in-progress tasks described above and publish what we learn from them. We also will begin work on the core modeling and analysis tasks for this project and expect to make significant progress towards their completion. These tasks will generate data and we will perform the analysis necessary for evaluating the project’s main research aims.

Supplemental Keywords:

dispersion modeling, mobile sources, travel demand, GHG, greenhouse gases, PM, particulate matter, vehicle exhaust, PM exposure

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract