By Ryan McGreal
Published June 19, 2007
In a presentation I made to City Council on its air quality and climate change policy in the summer of 2006, I tried to draw parallels between the city's various directions and guidelines on what the city's goal should be.
From Vision 2020 to Places to Grow, GRIDS, climate change, peak oil, and agriculture, the same recommendations about building a dense, vibrant, walkable urban environment turn up again and again.
That trend continues in a new Clean Air Hamilton report to City Council, just covered by Citizens at City Hall (CATCH).
According to the CAH report, motor vehicles produce half the air pollution in the city, with the worst pollution near the busiest thoroughfares.
The report stresses that urban design is as important as industrial pollution sources in impacting air quality.
The report notes, "greater street connectivity and increasing the 'walkability' of neighbourhoods decreases driving, and decreases the amount of air pollution associated with automobile emissions."
The CAH researchers found that the Hwy 403 corridor has the highest nitrogen oxide levels in the city, and that the Red Hill Expressway, once completed, will likely also have poor air quality. (Today, the air quality in the Red Hill Valley is quite good.)
Poor air quality is associated chiefly with a greatly elevated risk of premature heart attacks and cardiovascula disease. Heart attack victims are twice as likely to have been exposed to traffic pollution within an hour of having the attack.
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