How Depressing is Traffic-Related Air Pollution for the Elderly?

Ambient Air Pollution and Depressive Symptoms in Older Adults: Results from the MOBILIZE Boston Study(26 page pdf, Yi Wang, Melissa N. Eliot, Petros Koutrakis, Alexandros Gryparis, Joel D. Schwartz, Brent A. Coull, Murray A. Mittleman, William P. Milberg, Lewis A. Lipsitz, and Gregory A. Wellenius, Environmental Heralth Perspectives, Mar. 7, 2014)
Today we review a study that had surprising results for older people in reasonably good health who live near traffic and air pollution in a large American city (Boston). Despite much environmental health research that this exposure causes neurological and cardiovascular diseases, there was no evidence from this study that air pollution on a short or long term bases causes depression. By contrast, it is worth noting that those most likely to suffer depression and living near traffic were younger females.

Dragging the weight of the old age

Dragging the weight of the old age (Photo credit: Giulio Magnifico)

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How Can Satellite Imagery Help Reduce Care Use, Congestion and Emissions?

Landscape Pattern and Car Use: Evidence Linking Household Data with Satellite Imagery (Abstract, Rose Keller, Colin Vance, Journal of Transport Geography, Jan. , 2013)
Also discussed here: Urban planning could change driving behaviour (1 page pdf, Science for Environment Policy, European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service, Mar. 27, 2014)

And here: Factors influencing commute distance: a case study of Toronto’s commuter shed (Abstract, Axisa, Jeffrey J.; Scott, Darren M.; Bruce Newbold, K., , Journal of Transport Geography, Sep. 2012)

Today we review research that used satellite imagery along with geographical information system data (GIS) to find out what are the main pre-determinants for car use. Results indicate that diversity of land uses which includes the mix of open space with built-up space and the mix of regional businesses with residential are most highly linked to less care use, along with two more publicly-accepted notions about higher fuel prices and availability of public transit. This suggests that urbn planners would do well to compare digital maps of land use as part of their efforts to effectively reduce car use, congestion and carbon dioxide emissions (which make up 12% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Europe)

Per capita responsibility for current atmosphe...

Per capita responsibility for current atmospheric CO 2 level, including land-use change (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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What is the Best Way to Reduce Vehicle Emissions?

A methodology to compute emission projections from road transport (EmiTRANS) (Abstract, Julio Lumbrerasa, Rafael Borgea, Alberto Guijarroa, Jose M. Lopezb, M. Encarnacion Rodrígueza, Science Direct, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Jan. 2014)
Also discussed here: Simulations to reduce emissions from road transport (Science Daily, Mar. 24, 2014)
Today we review a paper that describes a greenhouse gas emission simulation model that can evaluate possible options to reduce emissions from land transportation. Results indicate that highway speed and engine type are the most influential factors while advanced emission reduction is most efficient for hazardous air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

A Miles ZX40 Zero-emissions vehicle at CUNY Qu...

A Miles ZX40 Zero-emissions vehicle at CUNY Queens College, New York City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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2012 Update on Global Impact of Air Pollution

Burden of disease from Household Air Pollution for 2012 (17 page pdf, World Health Organization, Mar. 24, 2014)

Also discussed here: An Integrated Risk Function for Estimating the Global Burden of Disease Attributable to Ambient Fine Particulate Matter Exposure (7 pages, Richard T. Burnett, C. Arden Pope III, Majid Ezzati, Casey Olives, Stephen S. Lim, Sumi Mehta, Hwashin H. Shin, Gitanjali Singh, Bryan Hubbell, Michael Brauer, H. Ross Anderson, Kirk R. Smith, John R. Balmes, Nigel G. Bruce, Haidong Kan, Francine Laden, Annette Prüss-Ustün, Michelle C.Turner, Susan M. Gapstur, W. Ryan Diver, and Aaron Cohen, Environmental Health Perspectives, Feb 7, 2014)

And here: 7 million premature deaths annually linked to air pollution (Press Release, World Health Organization, Mar. 25, 2014)

And here: Air pollution ‘kills 7 million people a year’ (The Guardian, Mar. 25, 2014)

Today we review the annual report from the World Health Organization on the global impact of indoor and outdoor air pollution which is estimated as 4.3 and 3.7 million deaths, respectively, each year.   While outdoor air pollution has been somewhat more controlled and reduced in recent years, indoor air pollution continues to increase the number of deaths especially among women in developing countries because of their greater exposure to emissions from cooking on wood stoves. More than 60% of deaths from indoor air pollution are attributed to strokes and Ischaemic heart disease with most of the remaining deaths (34%) from COPD and acute lower respiratory disease. The smallest cause (6%), unlike tobacco smoking is lung cancer. By contrast, 80% of deaths from outdoor air pollution were Ischaemic heart disease and from strokes.

Beijing Air Pollution

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Polling the Public about Air Pollution

Air Quality in London Survey(Transport for London, Mar. 2014)

Today we review a dozen questions that the Mayor Johnston has posed to his citizens about the state of air pollution London which recently reached record levels, comparable to those in the capital of China. Action to improve air quality (or other environmental issues such as climate change) from the public purse has to be based on how tax payers perceive the problem and its sources, as well as which options they might accept or hopefully endorse. Londoners are lucky to have Mayors who care enough about the environment to take significant steps to improve it, as we have seen in the implementation of the Low Emissions Zone, using a congestion charging system in the core of London over 10 years ago. What comes next? We’ll see after the poll closes in mid-April.

London AQ Map

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Will New York City Finally get Congestion Charging?

The Plan That Could Finally Free New York City From Traffic Congestion (Eric Jaffe, The Atlantic Cities, Mar. 20, 2014)

Also discussed here: East River tolls, Midtown traffic charges proposed for $1.5 billion boost to roads, transit system – Transportation advocates are ramping up efforts to sell the public on a revised version of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s defeated traffic plan. The ‘fair tolling’ proposal would charge drivers more in transit-rich areas like Midtown, while tolls at some bridges would be reduced. (NY Daily News, Pete Donohue, New York Daily News, Mar. 21, 2014)
Today we read about a second attempt to put congestion pricing into effect in downtown New York City, after the first one proposed by Mayor Bloomberg in 2008 was rejected. Although supported by the city, the plan was rejected by the state government and this set back plans in several other cities in the US and Canada to follow suit. What makes Manhattan well-suited for a tolling is that it is surrounded by bridges and tunnels, a characteristic common to the downtowns of other major cities that use congestion charging such as Stockholm, Sweden and London, England. While many want to reduce congestion and speed up commuting times, a key argument against putting a price on congestion is the lack of trust concerning the revenue it generates. The new plan for NYC takes this into account with firm plans to use most of the projected $1.5 B to go to public transit.

congestio charging london

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Why Do We Subsidize Parking for Public Transit Users?

The Dirty Truth Behind Park & Rides (Matt Steele, StreetsMM, Mar. 18, 2014)

Today we review some suggestions from Minneapolis where the proposal to expand their park and ride facilities is assessed in terms of what it costs to give the parking away free (when it costs $10 per user) compared to other more cost effective options, such as doing away with higher express fares at peak use times or producing more revenue from the lot areas than giving away parking. Bottom line is that the number of extra riders and revenue produced by free parking is less than improvements to the transit system itself which would make the latter more efficient and double the net revenue. A good question whether this arguments holds for cities such as Ottawa that are sprawled out over more than 2,800 km2 where some suburban and rural areas are poorly or expensively served by public transit. But it is always useful to consider impacts on ridership and the costs of subsidies in running very expensive public transit systems.


parka nd ride

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