air pollution toronto

Air pollution is ridiculously bad near major roads in Toronto

If you're one of the roughly 50 per cent of all Toronto residents who live within 250 metres of a major roadway... well, you can probably stop worrying about your Juul habit.

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."

This was all determined through a comprehensive, two-year research period conducted in collaboration with Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, and Metro Vancouver.

Scientists observed and monitored emissions at six sites across Vancouver and Toronto — three of them beside major roads representing a trucking route, a downtown road and a highway, and three at nearby "background sites."

The findings revealed that, yes, air pollution is much worse near high traffic areas than in lower traffic regions, and that government bodies need to take action — against diesel trucks, specifically — right away.

"A major finding from this study is the disproportionate role of emissions from diesel vehicles," reads the study's summary.

"Policies and interventions should be created to reduce emission of diesel exhaust in populated areas, particularly near facilities used by our more vulnerable members of society."

Lead photo by

twurdemann


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