Regional and seasonal variations in household and personal exposures to air pollution in one urban and two rural Chinese communities: A pilot study to collect time-resolved data using static and wearable devices

Ka Hung Chan, Xi Xia, Kin-fai Ho, Yu Guo, Om Kurmi, Huaidong Du, Derrick A. Bennett, Zheng Bian, Haidong Kan, John McDonnell, Dan Schmidt, Rene Kerosi, Liming Li, Kin Bong Hubert Lam, Zhengming Chen

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    Background Previous studies of the health impact of ambient and household air pollution (AAP/HAP) have chiefly relied on self-reported and/or address-based exposure modelling data. We assessed the feasibility of collecting and integrating detailed personal exposure data in different settings and seasons. Methods/design We recruited 477 participants (mean age 58 years, 72% women) from three (two rural [Gansu/Henan] and one urban [Suzhou]) study areas in the China Kadoorie Biobank, based on their previously reported fuel use patterns. A time-resolved monitor (PATS+CO) was used to measure continuously for 120-hour the concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) at personal and household (kitchen and living room) levels in warm (May-September 2017) and cool (November 2017–January 2018) seasons, along with questionnaires on participants’ characteristics (e.g. socio-demographic, and fuel use) and time-activity (48-hour). Parallel local ambient monitoring of particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5 and PM10) and gaseous pollutants (CO, ozone, nitrogen oxides) was conducted using regularly-calibrated devices. The air pollution exposure data were compared by study sites and seasons. Findings Overall 76% reported cooking at least weekly (regular-cooks), and 48% (urban 1%, rural 65%) used solid fuels (wood/coal) for cooking. Winter heating was more common in rural sites than in urban site (74–91% vs 17% daily), and mainly involved solid fuels. Mixed use of clean and solid fuels was common for cooking in rural areas (38%) but not for heating (0%). Overall, the measured mean PM2.5 levels were 2–3 fold higher in the cool than warm season, and in rural (e.g. kitchen: Gansuwarm_season = 142.3 µg/m3; Gansucool_season = 508.1 µg/m3; Henanwarm_season = 77.5 µg/m3; Henancool_season = 222.3 µg/m3) than urban sites (Suzhouwarm_season = 41.6 µg/m3; Suzhoucool_season = 81.6 µg/m3). The levels recorded tended to be the highest in kitchens, followed by personal, living room and outdoor. Time-resolved data show prominent peaks consistently recorded in the kitchen at typical cooking times, and sustained elevated PM2.5 levels (> 100 µg/m3) were observed in rural areas where use of solid fuels for heating was common. Discussion Personal air pollution exposure can be readily assessed using a low-cost time-resolved monitor in different settings, which, in combination with other personal and health outcome data, will enable reliable assessment of the long-term health effects of HAP/AAP exposures in general populations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number106217
    Number of pages11
    JournalEnvironment international
    Early online date28 Oct 2020
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


    Wellcome grants to Oxford University (212946/Z/18/Z, 202922/Z/16/Z, 104085/Z/14/Z, 088158/Z/09/Z) and grants from the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFC0900500, 2016YFC0900501, 2016YFC0900504, 2016YFC1303904) and from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (91843302, 91846303, 81390540, 81390541, 81390544). The UK Medical Research Council (MC_UU_00017/1,MC_UU_12026/2 MC_U137686851), Cancer Research UK (C16077/A29186; C500/A16896) and the British Heart Foundation (CH/1996001/9454)


    • Ambient air pollution
    • Exposure assessment
    • Household air pollution
    • Solid fuels
    • Time-activity

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Science(all)


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