What is E-Waste and What Health Risks does it Bring?

E-Waste: Health Impacts in Developing Countries (EHS Journal, Jul. 19, 2014)

Today we review a paper that describes the size and health threat of the annual disposal of 40M tones of e-waste, nearly 50% of which comes from EU and USA/Canada, with most of the disposal and processing taking place in Asian countries such as India, China and Pakistan. E-waste is considered more dangerous than most other municipal waste because of the harmful metals that when incinerated produce high health risk dioxins and furans. Government and public health regulations are called for in the manufacturing and recycling of electronic devices, as well as in the safe handling of the waste management.


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Does Pollution from Afar have a Greater Health Impact than Locally Produced Traffic-Related Pollution?

The effect of secondary inorganic aerosols, soot and the geographical origin of air mass on acute myocardial infarction hospitalisations in Gothenburg, Sweden during 1985-2010: a case-crossover study (29 page pdf, Janine Wichmann, Karin Sjöberg, Lin Tang, Marie Haeger-Eugensson, Annika Rosengren, Eva M Andersson, Lars Barregard and Gerd Sallsten, Environmental Health, Jul. 29, 2014)

Today we review an extensive statistical analysis of 26 years of environmental and health data from Gothenburg, Sweden aimed at finding any associations from long range transport of air pollutants (especially with coal burning plants to the east that could affect Gothenburg) and from pollution created locally from vehicle emissions etc. Results indicate an increase in heart disease in winter from local emissions and no significant cross-relationship with pollutants from long range.

English: Smokestacks from a wartime production...

English: Smokestacks from a wartime production plant, World War II. Myanmasa:  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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What Determines Maximum Car Use Levels in Different Countries?

The Future of Driving In Developing Countries (138 page pdf, Liisa Ecola, Charlene Rohr, Johanna Zmud, Tobias Kuhnimhof, Peter Phleps, RAND Corporation’s Institute for Mobility Research, Jul. 2014)

Also discussed here: New Study Predicts Vehicle Travel Saturation Levels (Planetizen, Jul. 27, 2014)

Today we review a RAND report that examines and predicts car use in developed (Germany, Australia, Japan) and developing countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), using eight factors that contribute to car use (demographics, income, geography, fuel price, alternatives, vehicle infrastructure and degree of car culture). Results indicate the most significant predictors of car use are car infrastructure and spatial dispersion leading to sprawl, not as one might expect, fuel price, availability of public transit or income, noting that Japan with the same income has ¼ the car use of the USA. The question is whether large industrial countries just beginning to embrace car use, such as China, will follow the USA or Japan (the authors predict the latter). Interestingly, in response to climate change concerns, the authors note that public policies aimed at reducing carbon fuel use and new technologies may well alter predictions made with the assumptions made with this model.

car saturation

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Are HOT Lanes Coming to Ontario’s Highways and How do they Work?

HOT Lanes: A Better Way to Attack Urban Highway Congestion – High-occupancy toll lanes benefit all highway users—not just the affluent (6 page pdf, Robert W. Poole Jr. and C. Kenneth Orski, Regulation, 2000)

Also discussed here: HOT Lanes: A Better Way to Attack Urban Highway Congestion (Robert W. Poole Jr. and C. Kenneth Orsk, CATO Institute)

And here: 2014 Ontario Budget Passes in Legislature – Plan Will Create Jobs, Build Modern Infrastructure and Transportation, Enhance Retirement Security (Press Release, Ontario Ministry of Finance, Jul. 24, 2014)

And here: Budget 2014 Building Modern Infrastructure (9 page pdf, Ontario Ministry of Finance, May 1, 2014)

And here: 495 Express Lanes Usage Update – July 2014

And here: Metrolinx: HOT lanes should be used to break the ice for VMT charging (Grush Hour, Apr. 18, 2013)

Today, we review a paper that was written 14 years ago but is still highly relevant in today’s world of congested urban highways that are getting worse, in the US and Canada at least. The authors review the state of car-pool or transit-only lanes (or high occupancy lanes as the transportation planners dub them), conclude that these lanes tend to be underused and are ineffective and point out the advantages of converting that the HOV lane to a HOT lane which introduces supply and demand pricing to the argument. Given also the great pressure for politicians against introducing any tolls but the equally great pressure to generate revenue and lower taxes, HOT lanes seem inevitable.

One must think that the government in Ontario is thinking along the same lines as they propose HOT lanes for all 400-series highways in the province, included in the May 1, 2014 budget and repeated in a budget bill that received Royal Assent on Jul. 24, 2014 as part of the “economic tools” to pay for over $30B needed for public transit over the next 20 years. A first step to more comprehensive road and congestion pricing perhaps?

how HOT lanes work

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Does “Free” Parking Downtown Make Any Sense?

How to Tax Parking (And How Not To) (Transport Providence, July 8, 2014)

Also discussed here: What’s the Best Way to Tax Parking? (Angie Schmitt, StreetsBlog, Jul. 25, 2014)

And here: Parking Taxes – Evaluating Options and Impacts (21 page pdf, Todd Litman, Victoria Transport Policy Institute, Aug. 29, 2013)

Today we review a blog post that discusses the equity or fairness in how parking spaces and lots are taxed, noting that many parking lots next to stores offer “free’ parking and these are taxed at a lower rate. A better approach from a fairness and environmentally wise point of view is to tax all spaces at the same rate. Parking rates are key to lowering congestion as well as discouraging casual use of roads by cars in the downtown- and as we see in San Francisco (SfPark), applying varying parking rates according to demand goes even farther.

providence parking

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How is Urban Sprawl Linked to Greenhouse Gas Emissions?

Changing Urban Form and Transport CO2 Emissions: An Empirical Analysis of Beijing, China (22 page pdf, Yunjing Wang, Yoshitsugu Hayashi, Jin Chen and Qiang Li, Sustainability, Jul. 22, 2014)
Today we review an assessment of commuting emissions for China’s capital city, Beijing which has undergone large increase in population as well as in size of its suburban areas which has contributed to a four-fold increase in emissions. The journal article attributes the increase in emissions to commuting distance and the shift toward the use of cars which in turn is related to the distance between workplace and home which is a function of urban form. Solutions to achieve sustainable transportation include planned development of housing which would shorten the commuting as well as a greater priority for metro subways over roads for cars.

commuting co2 china

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How does demand pricing of carbon work in British Columbia?

HACKING THE CLIMATE – B.C. put a price on carbon. What happened next will surprise you (Keleigh Annau, Sustainable Prosperity, Jun. 30, 2014)

Also discussed here: How the Carbon Tax Works (B.C. Ministry of Finance)

Today we review discussions about why and how a carbon tax was implemented in Canada’s most western province which has resulted in its greenhouse gas emissions being 20% lower than the rest of the country – and to almost everyone’s surprise, a public that demands that it continues. A key part of the approach is the return of revenue generated either by direct payments to those on low or zero income or by tax deductions to the middle class- a return of $500 million more each year than what was taxed for the province. Those who have adapted to the higher prices benefit the most in terms of money returned.

By 2020, it is estimated that the emissions avoided are equivalent to those from nearly 800,000 cars each year. By comparison the reductions credited to technological approaches such as electric light rail transit are puny- example in the city of Ottawa that a 43 km LRT system proposed in 2008 would have taken only 2, 400 cars off the road each year (and cost taxpayers nearly a billion dollars). Such a reduction in CO2 also has significant benefits in terms of lower health costs from the reduction of other toxic pollutants emitted by cars.

gas pump

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