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Sci Total Environ. 2017 Apr 15;584-585:55-63. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.01.145. Epub 2017 Jan 27.

Impacts on air pollution and health by changing commuting from car to bicycle.

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Department of Environmental Science and Analytical Chemistry, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; Environment and Health Administration, SLB, Stockholm, Sweden. Electronic address:
Environment and Health Administration, SLB, Stockholm, Sweden.
The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Stockholm, Sweden.
WSP Civils, Stockholm, Sweden.
Department of Geography and Economic History, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.


Our study is based on individual data on people's home and work addresses, as well as their age, sex and physical capacity, in order to establish realistic bicycle-travel distances. A transport model is used to single out data on commuting preferences in the County Stockholm. Our analysis shows there is a very large potential for reducing emissions and exposure if all car drivers living within a distance corresponding to a maximum of a 30min bicycle ride to work would change to commuting by bicycle. It would result in >111,000 new cyclists, corresponding to an increase of 209% compared to the current situation. Mean population exposure would be reduced by about 7% for both NOx and black carbon (BC) in the most densely populated area of the inner city of Stockholm. Applying a relative risk for NOx of 8% decrease in all-cause mortality associated with a 10μgm-3 decrease in NOx, this corresponds to >449 (95% CI: 340-558) years of life saved annually for the Stockholm county area with 2.1 million inhabitants. This is more than double the effect of the reduced mortality estimated for the introduction of congestion charge in Stockholm in 2006. Using NO2 or BC as indicator of health impacts, we obtain 395 (95% CI: 172-617) and 185 (95% CI: 158-209) years of life saved for the population, respectively. The calculated exposure of BC and its corresponding impacts on mortality are likely underestimated. With this in mind the estimates using NOx, NO2 and BC show quite similar health impacts considering the 95% confidence intervals.


Air pollution; Cycling; Human health; Mortality; Population exposure; Road traffic; Vehicle emissions

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