Project Objectives

This project aims to estimate the contribution of PM2.5 that can be attributed to emissions from diesel vehicles in the urban environments, to determine the exposure of the population to such emissions, and to inform policy and develop solutions to protect public health and the environment. These aims will be achieved through the completion of the following six objectives:

1.     Compilation of a detailed review of the literature on emissions and exposure from diesel road transport: A detailed review of the literature will be conducted in relation to diesel emissions and exposure, particulate matter and human health, source apportionment of particulate matter, emissions modelling and exposure modelling in the transport sector, population exposure assessment and health impact assessment.

2.     Source apportionment of exposure to particulate matter in Ireland: In order to enable the project team to determine the proportion of particulate matter in a gravimetric sample taken in different urban environments which has originated from diesel vehicles, source apportionment will be conducted using analysis of elemental profiles.

3.     Field assessment of the contribution of diesel emissions to exposure in Ireland: Building on the existing available datasets of PM2.5 exposure in Ireland, a field campaign will be conducted to assess exposure in identified areas of high exposure i.e. in the workplace, and during commuting. This new measurement campaign will be designed to complement existing datasets and form the basis of: i) an exposure assessment; and ii) exposure model development and validation in order to facilitate broader population exposure and health impact assessment.

4.     Development of a PM2.5 Emission Traffic Model: To assess the contribution of diesel vehicles to PM2.5 emissions, a transport micro-simulation model will be developed and calibrated against the latest available data. This calibrated model with then enable the prediction of future emissions scenarios due to modernisation of the vehicle fleet, growth in vehicles numbers, impact of public transport, impact of changes in transport policy, compliance and non-compliance with emissions reduction targets, etc. This transport emission model will also be vital for informing policy and developing solutions to curb the impact of diesel vehicles to particulate emissions in Irish cities in future.

5.     Development of a population exposure model: A population exposure model will be developed based on data collected as part of work under objective 3 and from existing historical data records. The proposed project team brings together considerable expertise in the development of exposure models using various approaches. This project will build on previous personal exposure models developed in Trinity College Dublin (TCD), using statistical and deterministic approaches. These existing models will be adopted and modified for the current project to enable: i) population exposure assessment and; ii) population health impact assessment, to be conducted. 

6.     Informing policy and developing solutions: Work conducted under the above objectives will be synthesised in this project to inform policy makers of the impact of diesel vehicle emissions on the exposure and health of the population at large in Ireland. Evidence will be generated on the contribution of diesel vehicle particulates to overall exposure in a typical 24-hr period for urban dwellers in Ireland. Evidence will also be generated on the current levels of exposure and resulting health impact from PM2.5 in Ireland. Through the development of emissions and exposure models, methods of reducing the existing and projected future impacts of diesel vehicles will be examined and disseminated.