airQmap enables the construction of maps of the exposure of cyclists and pedestrians to Black Carbon (BC). Black Carbon is the combustion related component of particulate matter (fine dust). Traffic and heating are important sources of BC. There are indications of a link between exposure to black carbon and cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary health effects.
The World Health Organization indicates that “Studies of short-term health effects suggest that BC is a better indicator of harmful particulate substances from combustion sources (especially traffic) than undifferentiated particulate matter (PM) mass” [link].
A number of visual aids are available to allow to get a better view on the local situation. It is possible to zoom in on locations of interest with the mouse wheel and satellite pictures can be activated in the menu behind the blue cross in the upper-right corner. On some maps, the detail level can be changed to the complete street segment with the button –Detail level- in het lower-left corner. Also, you can virtually visit the measurement locations with Google StreetView by clicking the –Activate StreetView- button under the map and clicking the location of interest. When a boll is clicked in the 3D visualisation, a number of basic statistics of the data collected on this location are shown.
The color scale used on all airQmap is shown on the following figure. All BC measurements are in nanogram/m3. The color scale shows the BC concentration typical for urban background locations in green (< 3000 ng/m3), the BC concentrations typical for rural and urban hot-spot locations in red (> 6000 ng/m3) and the BC concentrations in between in yellow and orange.
The BC concentration to which bikers are exposed in a street depends on different factors. The most important are: