ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Differences in minute ventilation between cyclists, pedestrians and other commuters influence inhaled doses of air pollution. This study estimates minute ventilation of cyclists, car and bus passengers, as part of a study on health effects of commuters' exposure to air pollutants. METHODS: Thirty-four participants performed a submaximal test on a bicycle ergometer, during which heart rate and minute ventilation were measured simultaneously at increasing cycling intensity. Individual regression equations were calculated between heart rate and the natural log of minute ventilation. Heart rates were recorded during 280 two hour trips by bicycle, bus and car and were calculated into minute ventilation levels using the individual regression coefficients. RESULTS: Minute ventilation during bicycle rides were on average 2.1 times higher than in the car (individual range from 1.3 to 5.3) and 2.0 times higher than in the bus (individual range from 1.3 to 5.1). The ratio of minute ventilation of cycling compared to travelling by bus or car was higher in women than in men. Substantial differences in regression equations were found between individuals. The use of individual regression equations instead of average regression equations resulted in substantially better predictions of individual minute ventilations. CONCLUSIONS: The comparability of the gender-specific overall regression equations linking heart rate and minute ventilation with one previous American study, supports that for studies on the group level overall equations can be used. For estimating individual doses, the use of individual regression coefficients provides more precise data. Minute ventilation levels of cyclists are on average two times higher than of bus and car passengers, consistent with the ratio found in one small previous study of young adults. The study illustrates the importance of inclusion of minute ventilation data in comparing air pollution doses between different modes of transport
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