Concentrations of fine, ultrafine, and black carbon particles in auto-rickshaws in New Delhi, India

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Journal Article

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Concentrations of air pollutants from vehicles are elevated along roadways, indicating that human exposure in transportation microenvironments may not be adequately characterized by centrally located monitors. We report results from ∼180 h of real-time measurements of fine particle and black carbon mass concentration (PM2.5, BC) and ultrafine particle number concentration (PN) inside a common vehicle, the auto-rickshaw, in New Delhi, India. Measured exposure concentrations are much higher in this study (geometric mean for ∼60 trip-averaged concentrations: 190 μg m−3 PM2.5, 42 μg m−3 BC, 280 × 103 particles cm−3; GSD ∼1.3 for all three pollutants) than reported for transportation microenvironments in other megacities. In-vehicle concentrations exceeded simultaneously measured ambient levels by 1.5× for PM2.5, 3.6× for BC, and 8.4× for PN. Short-duration peak concentrations (averaging time: 10 s), attributable to exhaust plumes of nearby vehicles, were greater than 300 μg m−3 for PM2.5, 85 μg m−3 for BC, and 650 × 103 particles cm−3 for PN. The incremental increase of within-vehicle concentration above ambient levels—which we attribute to in- and near-roadway emission sources—accounted for 30%, 68% and 86% of time-averaged in-vehicle PM2.5, BC and PN concentrations, respectively. Based on these results, we estimate that one's exposure during a daily commute by auto-rickshaw in Delhi is as least as large as full-day exposures experienced by urban residents of many high-income countries. This study illuminates an environmental health concern that may be common in many populous, low-income cities.


Atmospheric Environment



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