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Understanding intra-neighborhood patterns in PM2.5 and PM10 using mobile monitoring in Braddock, PA

Brett J Tunno1*, Kyra Naumoff Shields1, Paul Lioy7, Nanjun Chu4, Joseph B Kadane4, Bambang Parmanto3, Gede Pramana3, Jennifer Zora5, Cliff Davidson6, Fernando Holguin2 and Jane E Clougherty1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

2 Department of Pediatric Pulmonology and Pediatric Environmental Medicine Center, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

3 University of Pittsburgh Health Information Management, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

4 Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

5 Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

6 Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA

7 Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI), Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS), Piscataway, New York, USA

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Environmental Health 2012, 11:76  doi:10.1186/1476-069X-11-76

Published: 10 October 2012



Braddock, Pennsylvania is home to the Edgar Thomson Steel Works (ETSW), one of the few remaining active steel mills in the Pittsburgh region. An economically distressed area, Braddock exceeds average annual (>15 μg/m3) and daily (>35 μg/m3) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM2.5).


A mobile air monitoring study was designed and implemented in morning and afternoon hours in the summer and winter (2010–2011) to explore the within-neighborhood spatial and temporal (within-day and between-day) variability in PM2.5 and PM10.


Both pollutants displayed spatial variation between stops, and substantial temporal variation within and across study days. For summer morning sampling runs, site-specific mean PM2.5 ranged from 30.0 (SD = 3.3) to 55.1 (SD = 13.0) μg/m3. Mean PM10 ranged from 30.4 (SD = 2.5) to 69.7 (SD = 51.2) μg/m3, respectively. During summer months, afternoon concentrations were significantly lower than morning for both PM2.5 and PM10, potentially owing to morning subsidence inversions. Winter concentrations were lower than summer, on average, and showed lesser diurnal variation. Temperature, wind speed, and wind direction predicted significant variability in PM2.5 and PM10 in multiple linear regression models.


Data reveals significant morning versus afternoon variability and spatial variability in both PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations within Braddock. Information obtained on peak concentration periods, and the combined effects of industry, traffic, and elevation in this region informed the design of a larger stationary monitoring network.

“Particulate matter”; “Mobile monitoring”; “Spatial and temporal variability”; “Braddock; Pennsylvania”