Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 186, Issue 7, pp 4605–4618 | Cite as

Black carbon concentrations in a goods-movement neighborhood of Philadelphia, PA

  • Michelle C. Kondo
  • Chris Mizes
  • John Lee
  • Igor Burstyn


Communities along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, USA such as Port Richmond, are subject to traffic associated with goods movement to and from port facilities and local industry. Air pollution associated with this traffic poses an environmental health concern in this and other urban areas. Our study measures black carbon (BC) in Port Richmond and examines its relationship to expected sources such as truck traffic. We used a participatory sampling method to conduct 1-min measurements over 8-hour periods at 14 homes, a school and park, during a 4-week period in June 2012. Measurements over 9 sampling days had a 30-min average BC concentration of 1.2 μg m−3, and a maximum of 12 μg m−3. Statistical analyses showed some effect of traffic, but greater association between BC concentrations and weather and time of day. BC concentrations varied more by location than by day, and distance to traffic arterials and interstate freeway was a predictor of this variance. While our dataset is limited by number and variety of observations, major findings indicate that BC concentration varies more by location than by day, there is a decrease in median BC concentration with increased distance from an interstate highway, and an expected effect of diesel traffic on average daily BC concentrations. Our findings are an important step towards understanding patterns and determinants of BC concentration in communities colocated with major ports. Our study also demonstrates that participatory methods in air pollution monitoring can help increase awareness of local air pollution levels.


Black carbon Air pollution Participatory methods Goods movement Port 



We would like to thank the Port Richmond community for partnering with us on this research endeavor. This research would not have been possible without the assistance of Peter DeCarlo and Michael Waring at Drexel University, Kyle Thompson at Missouri Science and Technology, Kathleen Ward Brown, and willingness to share instrumentation from Jon Levy at Boston University. This research has been made possible through funding by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (CARE 2 and Environmental Justice Small Grant to Clean Air Council), the Penn Genome Frontiers Institute, and a grant with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (Kondo). The Department of Health specifically disclaims responsibility for any analyses, interpretations, or conclusions. This work was also supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant R01AA020331; C. Branas), and unnamed funding from the United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. The National Institutes of Health and USDA had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; or decision to submit the manuscript for publication.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle C. Kondo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chris Mizes
    • 3
  • John Lee
    • 3
  • Igor Burstyn
    • 4
  1. 1.USDA Forest Service, Northern Research StationPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Perelman School of MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Clean Air CouncilPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Environmental and Occupational HealthDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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