Population, Traffic Density and Air Pollution in Large Cities

Smart Growth (Livability), Air Pollution and Public Health (Wendell Cox, NewGeography, Sep. 29, 2011)

Today’s focus is on the links between population density, traffic intensity and higher levels of pollution intensity based on an analysis of traffic and EPA pollutant data from 51 cities in the USA with more than 1 M population.  The conclusion proposed is that the objective of urban planners toward urban population densification to reduce infrastructure costs and sprawl may result in higher pollution in the city core and that allowing sprawl allows vehicle emissions to dissipate over a larger area. While there is no argument against the link between heavy traffic, vehicle emissions and health risk, it seems that the author does not consider the fact that a sprawled city  results in more vehicle travel and emissions from people commuting to work downtown  than one with a high population density- aside from the added cost to provide municipal services such as fire, police, water and sewage to a larger area.

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE


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