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ERC

MobiliSense Report Summary

Project ID: 647000
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MobiliSense (Air pollution and noise exposure related to personal transport behaviour: short-term and longer-term effects on health)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

- Building on methods from Epidemiology, Geography, and Transport sciences, the objectives of MobiliSense are to quantify the contribution of personal transport to the air pollution and noise exposure of individuals; to compare the air pollution and noise exposure in the different transport modes; to investigate whether total and transport-related personal exposure to air pollutants and noise are associated with short-term and two-year changes in respiratory and cardiovascular health; and to examine whether transport-related exposures mediate socioeconomic disparities in health.
- The MobiliSense project is strongly related to ongoing policy efforts both at the national and European levels (i) in the field of Transport, (ii) for the regulation of air pollution, and (iii) for the regulation of noise. Overall, in the context of the insufficient evidence available attributable to the limitations of scientific studies, it is important to develop innovative research strategies to derive more reliable data on transport-related environmental exposures and on their health effects, to support international, European, and national policy efforts. The main and critical limitation of previous literature on this topic is that studies have evaluated the influence of air pollutants and noise separately; previous studies may therefore be heavily biased.
- The MobiliSense project will explore the short-term and longer-term effects that air pollution and noise exposures related to personal transport behaviour may have on respiratory health and cardiovascular health. Its final aim is to develop and deliver a flexible simulation tool for decision-makers to orientate policies to mitigate the detrimental health effects of transport-related exposures.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

This first period of 18 months was entirely devoted to the preparation of the MobiliSense data collection, which is extremely complex. MobiliSense will involve the recruitment of 1000 participants, monitored with complex tools, and seen again for a second evaluation after two years.
Briefly, we were able to make the following final decisions and take the following actions:
- definition of the sampling frame (sample size, several participants allowed per household, survey of new household when target household has moved, Grand Paris as the study territory, definition of the geographic strata for sampling, definition of clusters of neighbourhoods within strata, inclusion and exclusion criteria, definition of individual-level strata of hypertensives, respiratory disease participants, and public transport users, decision to measure blood pressure during the recruitment and to perform a spirometry test only for participants with at least one positive answer to 7 questions, calculation of the probability of selection in each individual stratum, protocol for taking non-response into account);
- preparation and extensive testing of the different questionnaires (eligibility questionnaire, acceptation questionnaire, sensor equipment and measurements questionnaire, biological sample questionnaire, main questionnaire, VERITAS mobility questionnaire, post-questionnaire, Trip Builder Web mobility questionnaire, and smartphone-based questionnaires) and follow-up of the electronic implementation of these questionnaires with the dedicated companies;
- definition of the Participant manager, Activity manager, and Device manager that will be used to manage the process of recruitment;
- validation of the final list of sensors to use, preparation of the measurement protocol for these sensors (decisions on the configurations after testing), choice and parameterization of the smartphone;
- organisation of the data collection period (definition of how to establish the contact with participants, of the sequence of operations on the recruitment day, of how to take the biological samples and how to store them, of the sensors to carry on each day, of the different forms and instruction sheets given to the participants, of how and which text messages are sent to the participants, of the exposure and health reports sent to the participants after the study, etc.);
- preparation of the job descriptions for the research assistants and preparation of the operational and management procedures (assignment of participants to research assistants, preparation of the guidebook of instructions for the research assistants, management of working days and day-off, reimbursement of car and parking costs, etc.).

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

- To contribute to strengthen the partnership at the local, national, and European levels between Public health and Urban planning decision-makers and inform European and national policies designed to mitigate the environmental hazards associated with motorised transport, our project aims to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of the health effects of exposures related to personal transport behaviour than previous studies, by building on innovative data collection and analytic methods from Epidemiology and Social epidemiology, Geography, and Transport sciences.
- Regarding measurement strategies, a key strength of the project is that it systematically relies on objective measurement approaches for the assessment of exposures, confounders, and health outcomes. The protocol uses passive sensors of location, behaviour, environmental conditions, and health (GPS receivers, accelerometers, air pollution and noise sensors, heart rate monitors, and ambulatory blood pressure monitors) and active sensors, i.e., devices requiring an action of the subject for measurement (blood pressure at rest and spirometry). The use of some of these sensors / monitors is extremely innovative: the recently developed ambulatory blood pressure monitor that will be used (TensioMed Arteriograph) measures central blood pressure (which is more predictive of target organ damage than brachial blood pressure) and aortic pulse wave velocity and the augmentation index as markers of arterial stiffness; the BioPatch will allow us to assess heart rate variability but also accelerometry and the respiratory rate; and no study has ever relied on a repeated smartphone survey to assess respiratory symptoms as close as possible from their onset.
A second measurement strength of the project, integrating methodologies from Public health / Nutrition and Transport sciences is related to the precise measurement of personal transport behaviour over 6 days using GPS receivers and a GPS data-based electronic survey of activities and transport modes. This approach allows us to decompose in a precise way the 8-day follow-up period into time spent at the different activity places and trips and trip stages (segments of trips with a unique mode), permitting to ascribe the data collected with the behavioural, environmental, and health sensors to each trip or activity place time segment of the mobility survey.
- Moreover, based on a systematic survey assessment of how people regularly go to their visited places, we will develop a methodology to distinguish between casual transport behaviour over 6 days and regular transport behaviour (over a longer period), as needed to investigate short-term and longer-term effects of transport on health.
- Other measurement strengths of the project include, as very few studies have done, the simultaneous monitoring of air pollution and noise with personal monitors, and the comparison of exposure measures based on personal sensors and GPS tracks (Geographic methodology).
- As important information for the development of European and national policies, these ground-breaking innovations will permit, compared to previous research, (i) to precisely quantify the percentage of exposure to various air pollutants and noise that is attributable to the transport activity; (ii) to establish a more precise link between the use of each transport mode and the exposure to air pollutants and noise as a way to better understand source-specific impacts as recently recommended; and (iii) to assess the health impacts of scenarios of changes both in personal transport behaviour and in exposure levels during transport.
- The latter simulations will test scenarios of interventions changing in a probabilistic way the transport behaviour of individuals (number, length, destination, and transport modes of trips) and / or the level of environmental exposure during trips. The method to perform flexible simulations of scenarios, as useful to orientate policies, will be packaged in a tool for decision-makers, and will be released as a deliverable of the project.
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