Harmful air pollution ‘definitely too high for the public’ near city roads, study suggests; research also notes air pollution can shrink the brain, in direct proportion to exposure

A link to previous posts about air pollution is featured at the bottom of the current post.

An Oct. 29, 2019 CBC article is entitled: “Harmful air pollution ‘definitely too high for the public’ near city roads, study suggests: Growth in SUVs, pickup truck sales blamed for rising ‘non-tailpipe’ emissions.”

The link below provides details about the study:

Context statement for Near-Road Air Pollution Pilot Study

The above-noted study features research by SOCAAR – the Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research at the University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering.

An excerpt (I’ve omitted the links, which you can find in the original text) reads:

Air pollution levels are “definitely too high for the public” near major roadways in Canadian cities — especially at rush hour and in winter — and poorly maintained diesel trucks are largely to blame, says the lead author of a new study that monitored pollutants in Vancouver and Toronto over two years.

The study — led by Greg Evans, director of the Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research at the University of Toronto — was motivated by an earlier discovery that nearly 30 per cent of Canadians, including about half of Toronto’s residents, live within 250 metres of a major roadway.

Meanwhile, growth in online shopping and delivery is boosting the number of heavy, diesel-powered vehicles cruising through our cities. Freight is the fastest growing sector within transportation, according to the Pembina Institute, a think-tank focused on clean energy.

Combination of the many pollutants present in emissions

An Oct. 29, 2019 blogTO article is entitled: “Air pollution is ridiculously bad near major roads in Toronto.”

An excerpt (I’ve omitted the links; refer to the original article to access them) reads:

A newly-published study from the Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research at the University of Toronto reveals that air pollution is two to five times higher near large roads and highways than those with little traffic.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, much of this excess pollution can be attributed to vehicle emissions — particularly diesel trucks, and the fast-growing number of personal SUVs on city roads and surrounding highways.

Diesel exhaust, a recognized human carcinogen, contributes a “disproportionate” amount of key air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and black carbon into the atmosphere near the homes of up to one-third of Canadians, according to the study.

“Exposure to traffic emissions has been associated with a wide range of adverse health outcomes, including increased risk of respiratory diseases such as asthma, birth and developmental concerns, cancer, and cardiovascular and respiratory mortality,” reads a context document.

“While some individual pollutants in traffic exhaust are toxic, it is the combination of the many pollutants present in emissions that is of concern.”

CBC article notes air pollution can shrink the brain in direct proportion to the exposure

A Feb. 17, 2019 CBC article is entitled: “Three unexpected ways that air pollution may affect our bodies.”

An excerpt (the reference to the shrinking brain you’ll have to find by reading the rest of the original article; see link above) reads:

Sometimes air pollution is obvious — the air is grey and smells terrible. But as Something in the Air, a documentary from The Nature of Things, shows, the air can still be bad for your health even in places where it looks fine.

According to research from the World Health Organization, more than 80 per cent of people living in urban zones that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels exceeding the WHO’s limits.

WHO adds that air pollution is the biggest environmental risk to health, causing one in every nine deaths annually around the world.

Despite generally good air quality in Canadian cities, it’s been reported that around 32 per cent of Canada’s population lives within 500 metres of a highway or 100 metres from a major urban road, resulting in increased exposure to traffic-related air pollution.

In addition to toxic gases, vehicle exhaust contains incredibly small bits of unburnt fuel called “ultrafine particulates,” which have been associated with a range of negative health effects.

What we can’t see can hurt us, and new research is showing how air pollution may affect the human body in unexpected ways.

Previous posts about air pollution

Click here for previous posts about air pollution >


A Nov. 27, 2019 Guardian article is entitled: “Impact of air pollution on health may be far worse than thought, study suggests: Results chime with earlier review indicating almost every cell in the body may be affected by dirty air.”

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