Faculty Advisor

Mark Potosnak


Air pollution is a major global health concern, specifically as it relates to the human exposome. The EPA criteria pollutants, including particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), and NOx can have severe impacts on respiratory and cardiovascular health, particularly in populations with chronic illnesses such as asthma, those facing economic hardships and individuals who frequently spend time outdoors, such as bicyclists and runners. To understand the impact of air pollution on human health, it is essential to assess personal exposure. This study aimed to investigate personal exposure to air pollution levels while biking along a former elevated railway, now urban trail, in Chicago, Illinois due to the east trailhead’s proximity to the I-90 highway, a significant source of PM, NOx, CO, and CO2. Ozone (O3), a secondary air pollutant, was also monitored, but was not statistically analyzed. During summer months of 2022, portable sensors were attached to a bike rack for data collection, and GPS-captured datasets were analyzed for statistical significance between longitude, which describes the location along the east-west path, and criteria air pollutants using linear regression in RStudio. The findings from the linear regression analyses revealed that longitude had a significant, strong positive association with carbon monoxide across three datasets, making longitude an appropriate predictor. However, CO2, PM1, PM2.5, and PM10, only showed a significant association with longitude on one day. O3 concentrations displayed sudden increases near the west trailhead on four out of six collection datasets observed. These spikes consistently exceeded 50 ppb, indicating a persistent source of ozone. Further investigation is necessary to understand the reason for the variation in significance of the criteria air pollutants and the potential source of ozone.