AIMS: To investigate the relation between personal exposures to nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and PM(10), and exposures estimated from static concentrations of these pollutants measured within the same microenvironments, for healthy individuals and members of susceptible groups. METHODS: Eleven healthy adult subjects and 18 members of groups more susceptible to adverse health changes in response to a given level of exposure to nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and/or PM(10) than the general population (six schoolchildren, six elderly subjects, and six with pre-existing disease-two with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), two with left ventricular failure (LVF), and two with severe asthma) were recruited. Daytime personal exposures were determined either directly or through shadowing. Relations between personal exposures and simultaneously measured microenvironment concentrations were examined. RESULTS: Correlations between personal exposures and microenvironment concentration were frequently weak for individual subjects because of the small range in measured concentrations. However, when all subjects were pooled, excellent relations between measured personal exposure and microenvironment concentration were found for both carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, with slopes of close to one and near zero intercepts. For PM(10), a good correlation was also found with an intercept of personal exposure (personal cloud) of 16.7 (SD 10.4) micro g/m(3). Modelled and measured personal exposures were generally in reasonably good agreement, but modelling with generic mean microenvironment data was unable to represent the full range of measured concentrations. CONCLUSIONS: Microenvironment measurements of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide can well represent the personal exposures of individuals within that microenvironment. The same is true for PM(10) with the addition of a personal cloud increment. Elderly subjects and those with pre-existing disease received generally lower PM(10) exposures than the healthy adult subjects and schoolchildren by virtue of their less active lifestyles.