INTRODUCTION: Air pollution is an important problem for São Paulo city and vehicles are the main source. About 11 million people are exposed to this pollution. OBJECTIVE: To examine studies realized about air pollution and its effects on health of the population of São Paulo (Brazil) and methods of assessing exposure to pollution related to traffic. METHODS: We performed a literature review using the keywords "air pollution", "São Paulo", and traffic-related air pollution. RESULTS: As results were obtained several studies that found relation between air pollution in São Paulo and respiratory and cardiovascular problems, fetal growth, increased mortality and hospitalizations, particularly in children and elderly people. In order to estimate the exposure, most of these studies consider the isotropic distribution of pollutants throughout the area, what prevents the evaluation of and the influence of traffic. Several methods have been used to analyze the air traffic exposure, which can be used isolated or combined. It is believed that the combination of models used to calculate pollutant concentrations to methods of georeferencing is the most appropriate approach for similar studies in São Paulo. The advantages of these methods are the ability to identify priority areas and situations, obtaining detailed information for adoption of public policies or measures, and to simulate different scenarios. CONCLUSION: The application of these methods in studies at São Paulo depends on the improvement of input data, air quality meteorological monitoring net enhancement and data of traffic volume.
air pollution; environmental exposure; public health; adverse effects; environmental health