Tuesday, June 28, 2011

car/air problem

CATCH News – June 28, 2011
Clean Air Hamilton says emissions from transportation are the main cause of local air pollution, and is advising city councillors that they should do something about this. In a special section added to their annual report, the city-funded group specifically “recognizes that strong linkages exist between planning decisions and the resulting air quality in cities.”
Chair Dr Brian McCarry says progress has been made in Hamilton air quality, but problems remain with both premature deaths and hospitalizations attributable to the air local residents breathe. And while about half of the pollutants originate in the United States, most of the rest can be reduced by local actions.
“Almost all the oxides of nitrogen … almost all the carbon monoxide, and SO2 , and most of the particulate material are locally generated,” said McCarry. “We have responsibility for those cars, trucks, industries, our lifestyle that contribute to that.”
While acknowledging local industrial pollution, he told the general issues committee the Hamilton “is primarily a motor-based city” not much different from Toronto. This means that “there are a lot of areas of the city that get very little industrial impact, and they are hit primarily, by car and truck emissions” and this is especially true for people living near major arterial roads who get “much higher exposure to these kinds of pollutants”.
Mobile monitoring studies, for example, have shown pollution levels ten times higher at major intersections than on residential streets as little as 200 metres away. McCarry went on to stress “that urban planning decisions made around this council table have direct impacts long term on air quality” and that it is “critical” for councillors to recognize this and act accordingly.
“When you say we're putting in a subdivision here, that subdivision is going to be there in 50 years,” he noted. “The kind of walkable cities that have been talked about in the economic summit is the kind of thing we've been talking about for some time and we think this is a critical issue and an opportunity for this city to step forward.”
A major achievement noted by McCarry has been the establishment of the Hamilton Air Monitoring Network – a linked collection of 17 company-operated monitoring stations that provide real-time air quality data on-line, and make Hamilton “the best monitored city in the country”. Clean Air Hamilton also supports tree planting, participates in sustainable transportation programs, and organizes the biennial Upwind Downwind Conference.
Mayor Bratina asked if city air was improving, and McCarry said it was “incrementally”, but a major problem is ozone arising from coal-fired power stations in Ohio which produce 83 percent of that state’s electricity. He also agreed with the mayor that Hamilton’s air is not significantly worse than other parts of southern Ontario, but argued that action is necessary, pointing to the improvements obtained in Portland Oregon by the establishment of light rail transit.

CATCH (Citizens at City Hall) updates use transcripts and/or public documents to highlight information about Hamilton civic affairs that is not generally available in the mass media. Detailed reports of City Hall meetings can be reviewed at hamiltoncatch.org. You can receive all CATCH free updates by sending an email to http://hamiltoncatch.org/newsletter/?p=subscribe. Sharing links are available on the hamiltoncatch.org.

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