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The text on this page is taken from the EXPOLIS-project homepage under "The Field Phase".

EXPOLIS is a monitoring study that measured the population exposures to key air pollutants in six European cities. Concentrations were measured in home indoor, home outdoor and work indoor environments and in addition personal exposure were measured for 48hr with carry-on samplers. Measurements took place in 1996-1997.

The original EXPOLIS-project

EXPOLIS is a study about population exposures to air pollution. Epidemiological studies have connected air pollution to adverse health effects, like sickness and pre-mature death. These are caused when population comes to contact with pollution.

Originally the EXPOLIS Study was launched as European Comission (EC) project in the Program for Research and Technology Development (RTD), Framework IV. This Framework was for years 1994-98, and EXPOLIS started in 1996.

This chapter givers information on the orignal EXPOLIS project: among other things the scientific background, study design, measurements, selected pollutants and quality assurance. As a large international study, EXPOLIS related work is continuing and producing new related research plans, studies and results. The current and future activities are discussed in the next chapter.

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History of the EXPOLIS project. The field work in the original six centers was carried out in 1996-97. The scientific analysis of the collected samples and the created database continues at least for 2000-2005.

Scientific background

EXPOLIS study is based on the scientific literature review and research plan[1], the publication on the EXPOLIS design[2] and the EXPOLIS Final Report[3].

One-page summary if the key issues is presented below:

Background: What do we know?

Epidemiological air pollution studies in the last decade have shown that

  • increased daily pollution levels increase daily mortality, and
  • increased long term levels reduce the average length of life of large urban populations.

Mortality increases are clearly associated with small aerosol particles, but also other pollutants, especially sulfates and ozone seem significant.

Practical and Scientific Problem

The studies have related mortality statistics to air pollution levels at urban monitoring sites. The affected people, however, spend very little time breathing this monitored outdoor air, but instead breathe air inside homes, workplaces and transportation vehicles. They are exposed to the contaminants in the air that surrounds them through the day - indoors and outdoors.

Solution: The EXPOLIS study and it's goals

Expolis study collects air pollution exposure data from adult urban populations in Europe to assess

  • air pollution exposure levels and distributions, and relations to ambient air quality,
  • personal, environmental, and communal determinants of these exposures,
  • and to develop a probabilistic simulation technique for modeling exposures of subpopulations and impacts of urban development alternatives on exposures.


The EXPOLIS study was launched in March, 1996 as part of the European Comission Research and Technological Development (EC RTD) Program IV, 1994-1998. In this program was part of Environment and Climate, Activity 1/III6.

In each of the participating centres, national funding has been granted. Some of these are listed below:

  • EXPOLIS has been supported by EU contracts ENV4-CT96-0202 and ERB IC20-CT96-0061 (Prague),
  • Academy of Finland contract N:o 36586 (Helsinki),
  • Swiss Ministry for Education and Science contract BBW N:o 95.0894 (Basel),
  • French National Environment Agency (ADEME), Union Routière de France and Grenoble Communauté de Communes (Grenoble),

Other national research funds, and intramural funding from the participating institutes.

  • EAS (Elemental Analysis Study in EXPOLIS) has been supported by Swiss National Science Foundation contract No: 32-52990.97/1, Academy of Finland Contract No: 42610, and intramural funding from University of Basel and KTL.
  • EXPOLIS IndEx has been supported by Cefic LRI Contract NMALRI-A3.3UBAS0207.

Expanding EXPOLIS

After the original start-up of EXPOLIS study back in 1996, launched by the European Commission, several new research groups have selected to use the tested and well designed procedures of EXPOLIS study in population exposure measurements.

Substantial amount of work, including literature reviews, thorough evaluations of measurement techniques and equipment and planning the study design has been done in planning and preparing for the original EXPOLIS study. This work can be utilized by other workgroups.

Among new research groups accommodating the EXPOLIS procedures are:

  • Columbia University, New York, USA
  • Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine, London, UK
  • Middlesex University, London, UK

Besides these studies that use EXPOLIS procedures for similar measurements in new cities and for new populations, EXPOLIS links to other concurrent studies:

  • EXPAND Study, Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI)

The cities

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The cities selected for population exposure measurements in the original EXPOLIS study were:

  • Athens
  • Basel
  • Grenoble
  • Helsinki
  • Milan
  • Prague

The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, RIVM, is sited in Bilthoven. RIVM participates in the data analysis and simulation activities. No measurements were carried out in Bilthoven.

These cities represent variety of sizes, geographical locations and nationalities in the European scale.

Population samples

The target population in each of the original EXPOLIS cities are the 25-55 year old (i.e. working age) people. Several population samples were drawn from target population:

  1. random sample for short mailed or interviewed questionnaire
  2. random sample for time activity diary and in-depth questionnaires
  3. sample for exposure and microenvironmental concentration measurements

In Helsinki, a larger exposure measurement sample was drawn for more detailed analysis of exposure determinants (n=201). In other centers the exposure sample size was 50. The target size for mailed questionnaire was 2000, the true sample sizes in each city varying up to 3000.

Response rates in different cities varied. Tuulia Rotko has studied the sub population characteristics compared to the whole target population in each city.The results are published in:

Tuulia Rotko, Lucy Oglesby, Nino Künzli and Matti J. Jantunen (2000): Population Sampling In European Multicity Expolis Study And Comparability Of Air Pollution Exposure Results. Submitted to Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology.


The exposures and microenvironmental concentrations in the most important personal environments were measured for several key pollutants:

  1. Fine Particulate Matter, particle size < 2.5 µm (PM2.5) and elemental composition pf PM and BS index.
  2. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) of environmental health relevance
  3. Carbon Monoxide (CO)
  4. and optionally Nitrogen Dioxide (in some centers only)

The concentration of 30 VOC compounds were analyzed in every sample. Some 300 other compounds were identified in same samples.

The selection of measured pollutants is discussed in more detail in

Jantunen M, Hänninen O, Katsouyanni K, Knöppel H, Kuenzli N, Lebret E, Maroni M, Saarela K, Srám R and Zmirou D (1998): Air Pollution Exposure in European Cities: The Expolis Study. JEAEE 8: 495-518.
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Sampling media. Particulate matter was sampled on Teflon filters (left) and VOCs on Tenax tubes (top) using a pump. NO2 was sampled on Palmes tubes (bottom) with passive diffusion.

List of elements: PM 2.5 elemental composition. Na, Mg, Al, S, Cl, K, Ca, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, Ga, As, Se, Br, Rb, Sr and Pb

Table 1. EXPOLIS VOC Target Compound List.
Alkanes CAS Number
hexane 110-54-3
nonane 111-84-2
decane 124-18-5
cyclohexane 110-82-7
undecane 1120-21-4
Alcohols CAS Number
2-methyl-1-propanol 78-83-1
1-butanol 71-36-3
2-ethyl-1-hexanol 104-76-7
phenol 108-95-2
2-butoxyethanol 111-76-2
1-octanol 111-87-5
Alkanals CAS Number
hexanal 66-25-1
benzaldehyde 100-52-7
octanal 124-13-0
Halogenated CAS Number
trichloroethene 79-01-6
tetrachloroethene 127-18-4
1,1,2-trichloroethane 79-00-4
Miscellaneous CAS Number
dl-limonene 138-86-3
1-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone 872-50-4
3-caren 13466-78-9
alfa-pinene 80-56-8
Aromatics CAS Number
benzene 71-43-2
toluene 108-88-3
ethylbenzene 100-41-4
m- & p-xylene 108-38-3
o-xylene 95-47-6
styrene 100-42-5
naphthalene 91-20-3
propylbenzene 103-65-1
trimethylbenzenes 95-63-6

EXPOLIS measurements

The EXPOLIS measurement period for each subject was 48 hours (i.e. 2 full days).

Microenvironmental measurements were carried out at the home indoors, home outdoors and the workplace of each subject. These microenvironmental monitors (MEMs) were programmed to run approximately at the times the subject was supposed to be present. Each MEM measured integrated samples of PM2.5, VOCs and optionally (in some centers) NO2.

Personal monitor suitcase (PEM) was carried by the subjects for the same 2-day period. The case was always positioned at the proximity of the subject. The PEM measured similar integrated samples as the MEMs and additionally recorded the CO concentration at 1-minute intervals. The personal PM2.5 measurement was divided into two subsections: one filter was used for the commuting and working day. The second filter was used the rest of the time.

The measurement scheme and PM2.5 measurements are described in more detail in:

Jantunen M, Hänninen O, Katsouyanni K, Knöppel H, Kuenzli N, Lebret E, Maroni M, Saarela K, Srám R and Zmirou D (1998): Air Pollution Exposure in European Cities: The Expolis Study. JEAEE 8: 495-518. Koistinen K, Kousa A, Tenhola V, Hänninen O, Jantunen M, Oglesby L, Künzli N and Georgoulis L (1999): Fine Particle (PM2.5) Measurement Methodology, Quality Assurance Procedures, and Pilot Results of the EXPOLIS Study. JAWMA 49:1212-1220.

For both MEM (left) and PEM monitors, the noise insulation was one of the most important design targets. For PEM, also the weight of the case is crusial: the subject must carry the case every where for 2 days. The Expolis case weighs approximately 5 kg.

The noise insulation boxes and cases were developed by KTL and built by Finnish subcontractors. The pump type used in the personal sampling was Buck I.H.. The personal cyclones were developed by BGI, Inc., which also provided the PQ-100 pumps and other equipment used in microenvironmental monitors [1]. Soap bubble type gas flow calibrators used int the EXPOLIS Study were provided by Buck.

Quality assurance

As EXPOLIS was an international multicenter study, a careful quality assurance plan was needed. The Helsinki team developed and tested the measurement procedures in co-operation with the other centers. During the 2nd EXPOLIS workshop in Helsinki autumn 1996 parallel measurements were conducted with all the equipment to be used in each of the centers. A set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were written to describe each single task in the measurements.

The Expolis SOPs have been made available for other research teams interested in benefitting the development work done for EXPOLIS study. Please contact the EXPOLIS coordinator Matti Jantunen for more information.

The some aspects of quality assurance are discussed in more detail in the following papers:

  • Jantunen M, Hänninen O, Katsouyanni K, Knöppel H, Kuenzli N, Lebret E, Maroni M, Saarela K, Srám R and Zmirou D (1998): Air Pollution Exposure in European Cities: The Expolis Study. JEAEE 8: 495-518.
  • Koistinen K, Kousa A, Tenhola V, Hänninen O, Jantunen M, Oglesby L, Künzli N and Georgoulis L (1999): Fine Particle (PM2.5) Measurement Methodology, Quality Assurance Procedures, and Pilot Results of the EXPOLIS Study. JAWMA 49:1212-1220.
Table 2. Standard Operating Procedures developed in the Expolis study.
SOP Description
SOP Expolis/KTL-G-1.0 Preparation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS)
SOP Expolis/KTL-I-1.0 Customer procedure, Exposure Customers
SOP Expolis/KTL-I-2.0 Customer procedure, TLAD-Only group
SOP Expolis/KTL-F-1.0 MEM Sampler positioning and PEM sampler carrying
SOP Expolis/KTL-F-2.0 PM2.5 PEM Sampling
SOP Expolis/KTL-F-3.0 PM2.5 MEM Sampling (Indoor and Outdoor)
SOP Expolis/ETHZ-L-5.0 PM2.5 Teflon-Filter Analysis (PEM,MEM)
SOP Expolis/VTT-F-4.0 VOC sampling
SOP Expolis/VTT-L-3.0 VOC sample analysis
SOP Expolis/VTT-L-4.0 VOC sampling and analysis QA
SOP Expolis/KTL-F-5.0 CO Monitoring
SOP Expolis/KTL-L-2.0 CO Monitoring QA
SOP Expolis/UoA-I-3.0 Long Questionnaire
SOP Expolis/UoA-I-4.0 TMAD- Time Activity Diary
(no SOP) Short Questionnaire
(Multiple Documents) Data Procedures

EXPOLIS database

All data measured in the EXPOLIS study, as well as ambient and meteorological data measured in the same cities at the same time are stored in the EXPOLIS Database. This database is shared among the original EXPOLIS partners, and it will be later available for other researchers too.

EXPOLIS Database was developed using Microsoft Access version 95 to handle the tremendous amount of data that was to be collected in the EXPOLIS study. Goals of the data management were:

  1. All needed data in each center is stored
  2. Data is in a combatible and combinable format
  3. Tools for data entry are provided
  4. as well as procedures to check the correctness and completeness of the data
  5. Privacy of subjects is protected

Besides these general goals, each data item was to be stored only once. If e.g. a typing error needed to be corrected, all results calculated from this value should immediately reflect the correction. This goal was achieved by using dynamic Concentration Query Networks to do the calculations.

The database was originally developed by MSc Otto Hänninen. In 1999 Esa Kaarakainen and Sari Alm took over the further development of the international version of EXPOLIS Database.

Coordinator Matti Jantunen
Head of laboratory Sari Alm
Researcher Otto Hänninen

Database manual and databases can be found from Online Library

Data Management documents written in the EXPOLIS study.

Major documents:

  • Hänninen O (1996): Expolis Data Specification. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1996): Expolis Data Entry. Project document.
  • Hänninen O, Koistinen K (1997): Expolis CQN-PM2.5: How to calculate PM2.5 concentrations from the Expolis database. Project document.
  • Hänninen O, Jurvelin J, Kaarakainen E (1998): Expolis CQN-VOC: How to calculate VOC concentrations from the Expolis database. Project document.
  • Hänninen O, Kumpulainen K (1998): Expolis CQN-NO2: How to calculate NO2 concentrations from the Expolis database. Project document.
  • Hänninen O, Kaarakainen E (1998): Expolis CQN-CO: How to calculate CO concentrations from the Expolis database. Project document.
  • Hänninen O, Keski-Karhu J (1998): The FIXED and MET databases. Project document.
  • Hänninen O, Kaarakainen E (1998): Data checking and cleaning of the CO 1 minute data. Project document.

Instructions sheets:

  • Hänninen O (1996): Creating a private copy of the Expolis database datafile. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1996): Drafting Expolis Data Management. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1996): EADB Installation Instructions. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1996): Joining the Access workgroup file to gain permissions to use the Expolis database. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1996): LANGAN.EXE Instructions. How to download Databear data directly in Expolis format using the LANGAN.EXE download program. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1996): LANGAN.XLS Instructions. How to import the CO data to LANGAN.XLS format. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1996): Mettler Instructions. Instructions to connect the Mettler MT5 balance to the PC. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1996): Moving data from Mettler Excel sheets to the Expolis Database. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1996): PQ100 Fake time.XLS Instructions. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1996): PQWLOAD.EXE Instructions. How to use Expolis download program for the PQ-100 pump. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1996): Using Explorer. Instructions how to use Microsoft Windows 95/NT Explorer. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1997): COMTEST.EXE Instructions. How to test the COM ports of a PC using COMTEST.EXE program. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1997): EIB_COMB.EXE Instructions. How to combine Databear download files from the EIBEARM.EXE to EXPOLIS format. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1997): Expolis .EXE news files. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1997): Importing LANGAN2 diaries to TMAD database. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1997): Installing the TMAD database. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1997): LANGAN2.XLS Instructions. How to import the CO data to LANGAN2.XLS format. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1997): QWin Instructions. How to use Microsoft Quick Windows programs. Project document.
  • Hänninen O (1997): Taking personal backups. Project document.
  • Hänninen O, Kaarakainen E (1998): 58to57.EXE Instructions. How to correct mismatches in the second field in the Databear download files. Project document.
  • Keski-Karhu J, Hänninen O (1998): CE Distance Queries. How to calculate distances from subject’s home and workplace to the fixed ambient air quality monitoring stations and to select the closest stations for each subject. Project document.

See also


  1. Jantunen M, Hänninen O and Saarela K (1995): Air Pollution Exposure Distributions within Adult Urban Populations in Europe, 72 pages and appendixes. Project document.
  2. Jantunen M, Hänninen O, Katsouyanni K, Knöppel H, Kuenzli N, Lebret E, Maroni M, Saarela K, Srám R and Zmirou D (1998): Air Pollution Exposure in European Cities: The Expolis Study. JEAEE 8: 495-518.
  3. Jantunen M, Katsouyanni K, Knöppel H, Kuenzli N, Lebret E, Maroni M, Saarela K, Srám R and Zmirou D (1999): Expolis Final Report, KTL, Kuopio, Finland.