As a person who loves to drive, I was thoroughly intrigued to learn about the recent study of air pollution in south Etobicoke.
Cars and trucks: What can be done?
“Cars and trucks are far and away the greatest contributors of these five pollutants,” said Christopher Morgan with the city’s Environment and Energy Office. “Benzene and benzo(a)pyrene are clearly from transportation sources. PM10 is from cars and trucks: tires and brakes, not tailpipes, PM2.5 is from the tailpipes of cars and trucks.”
Neighbourhoods adjacent to Hwy. 427 were found to have worse air quality than those flanking the Gardiner because Hwy. 427 has a greater volume of traffic, particularly trucks, Morgan reported.
What can be done?
Morgan urged residents to advocate for better transportation emission standards and cleaner natural gas to improve the community’s air quality, which is not markedly worse than other areas of the city, Toronto Public Health officials reported.
“We need to work with the provincial ministries — environment, health and transportation — and the city divisions — Toronto Public Health, city planning, TTC and transportation regarding vehicle emissions, particularly trucks,” Morgan said.
“We need to go to those provincial ministries and convince them to advocate the issue to the feds by talking with other provinces. We need to connect with our major Canadian cities that all experience similar issues. Collectively, we need to advocate for improved emissions standards across Canada and North America. It will be difficult, and it will take time.”
Actions residents could take include: reducing natural gas consumption by cleaning their furnace annually, upgrading their home’s insulation to use less heating fuel and lowering the thermostat setting; driving less and using public transit or alternate modes of transportation, such as cycling, and undertaking green initiatives at home and in schools.
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The bottom line is that we are dealing with a regional problem.
For my part, I plan to become a member of the Toronto Environmental Alliance and contribute financially to its work. I’m also delighted to be using the GO Train, rather than my car, to attend classes that I’m currently taking at Ryerson University. When the weather improves, I look forward to getting a lot of exercise along the Lake Ontario shoreline on my bicycle.
Transportation and inequality
A Jan. 27, 2014 article which originally appeared at the US-based National League of Cities website is entitled: “To Fix Inequality, Think Local.” I learned of the article from a tweet by @urbandata. The tweet read, in part: “To fix #inequality, think locally (and particularly about transportation).”
A March 30, 2014 Planetizen article is entitled: “Air Pollution Kills […] 7 Million Annually.”
A May 22, 2014 metronews.ca article is entitled: “Yes, that traffic jam really is killing you.”
A June 18, 2014 Reuters article is entitled: “Air pollution linked to cognitive decline in later years.”
In the June 12, 2014 Provincial election in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, public transit was among the major issues under discussion.
An April 1, 2015 Globe and Mail article is entitled: “Air pollution may be related to anxiety levels in women: study.”
A July 20, 2015 CBC article is entitled: “Canada can’t afford complacency on air pollution: CMAJ editorial: Air pollution a ‘silent killer’ that can exacerbate other health conditions.”