Number five in the Transport in a Fine Fix Series.
“Though tens of millions of people nationwide live within a few hundred feet of a major road, monitoring stations established to measure common air pollutants typically have been placed away from such thoroughfares and other obvious sources of contamination,” Los Angeles Times reporter Tony Barboza wrote. “That’s because the monitors are intended to measure pollution across entire regions to determine if they are within health standards set by the state and federal government.”
But things in this regard are about to change and in a big way.
Air pollution monitoring along major thoroughfares will be in effect in over 100 major metropolises throughout the U.S. starting early next year, according to Barboza. The change is all on account of a new United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) directive. In the Los Angeles region, for example, monitors will be positioned along four – count ‘em – four of the area’s more heavily trafficked freeways.
Harmful emissions releases via vehicle exhaust, meanwhile, can be especially pronounced on or close by major urban area highways. The presumption is, the heavier the roadway traffic, the more prevalent emissions related to that traffic will be. Known health issues connected with traffic-produced air pollution and confirmed by scientists no less, according to Barboza, include asthma, bronchitis, heart disease and lung cancer.
So, by virtue of such action being initiated, pollution monitoring equipment placed in close proximity to a section of freeway that experiences relatively high volumes of traffic, it should be unequivocal what the actual pollution numbers connected to that traffic are.
“The new monitoring is likely to have broad implications,” the reporter wrote. “If, as expected, the new data show higher pollution levels, environmental organizations and neighborhood activists almost certainly will call for local officials to take more aggressive steps to reduce emissions and curtail residential development near freeways.”
For all those living near major urban freeways, the effort by the EPA, depending on findings I would surmise, could very well result in related air-cleanup processes being moved faster and farther along.
And, I might add, the effort comes not a moment too soon.