Impact of Traffic Air Pollution on Health in Toronto

Air Pollution Burden of Illness from Traffic in Toronto – Problems and Solutions (67 page pdf, Toronto Public Health, Nov. 2007)

This study from the Public Health Branch in Canada’s largest city made significant progress in quantifying the health impact of  air pollution from traffic  by applying two modelling tools: AQBAT (Health Canada’s Air Quality Benefit Assessment Tool) and ICAP (Ontario Medical Association’s Illness Costs of Air Pollution). A number of approaches are suggested to reduce these impacts, including notably greater use of roads

Key Quotes:

“In 2004, Toronto Public Health (TPH) estimated that air pollution (from all sources) is responsible for about 1,700 premature deaths and 6,000 hospitalizations each year in Toronto… these deaths would not have occurred when they did without chronic exposure to air pollution at the levels experienced in Toronto”

“mortality-related costs associated with traffic pollution in Toronto are about $2.2 billion. A 30% reduction in vehicle emissions in Toronto is projected to save 189 lives and result in 900 million dollars in health benefits”

“While the majority of hospitalizations involve the elderly, traffic-related pollution also has significant adverse effects on children”

“Exposure to pollutants is elevated in urban areas with high traffic volumes and heavily travelled highway corridors..High levels of vehicle-related emissions have been linked to high density traffic sites.. Street canyons (streets lined with tall buildings that impede the dispersion of air pollutants) and areas very close to busy roads typically have a high concentration of emissions”

“There is a need to allocate more road space towards development of expanded infrastructure for walking, cycling and on-road public transit (such as dedicated bus and streetcar lanes) so as to accelerate the modal shift from motor vehicles to sustainable transportation modes that give more priority to pedestrians, cyclists and transit users.”

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