Health Issues

Health Issues
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People of color more likely to live near high-polluting roads

A new study from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) found that 45% of the greater Boston area’s Black residents, 47% of the region’s Asian residents, and 54% of the region’s Latino residents live in the highest-pollution areas, compared to only 29% of the region’s white residents. Exposure to vehicle air pollution increases the risk of heart and lung diseases, which have been associated with higher death rates for patients suffering from COVID-19.

Read more of the study’s findings.

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Health Issues
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Virtual community meeting June 1 on traffic pollution research

You are invited to participate in a Community Meeting (via ZOOM) reporting on research done by the CAFEH research team on how traffic related air pollution and noise affects the health and wellbeing of Somerville residents. 

At the meeting we will cover what we have learned about the impact of traffic related air pollution on health, the results of noise testing along I-93 and how noise pollution affects our health. And, We will present the results of recent air pollution monitoring during the Covid pandemic when traffic has been very reduced in comparison to the more typical heavy traffic traveling through Somerville. 

June 1st, Monday 
5:00 pm to 6:00 pm 

In the comfort of your home via ZOOM 
Register Here 

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Health Issues
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STEP participates in indoor air quality study

“Study to investigate indoor air quality in affordable housing near busy roadways” (Tufts Now)

“A first-of-its-kind study led by Tufts University researchers, in collaboration with Somerville officials and citizens, will measure indoor air quality and comfort in multifamily housing developments near busy roadways. The study will develop recommendations for the design and operation of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to create a protective indoor environment that restricts residents’ exposure to transportation-related air pollution.”

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Health Issues
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Worried about traffic pollution? The trucks are the biggest problem

“Large trucks are biggest culprits of near-road air pollution”

“Research consistently links traffic emissions to negative effects on both the environment and human health. “Whether it be cancer, respiratory problems, cardiac problems or neurodegenerative problems, there are numerous adverse health effects associated with the chemicals in these emissions,” said Evans. “If we were able to reduce emission of pollutants like black carbon, we would also see an immediate climate benefit.” Black carbon — commonly called soot — is a marker for exposure to diesel exhaust which is known to have negative health effects.”

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Health Issues
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US News & World Report article on Somerville efforts to deal with near-highway pollution

“Fighting for Breath in Near-Highway Neighborhoods” 

“In the neighborhoods straddling Interstate 93 in Somerville, Massachusetts, residents know to keep their windows shut each weekday as commuters travel from Boston’s suburbs into the city, their cars spouting exhaust and other pollution that collects as soot on the sides of houses.

Infamous for its congested roads and rush-hour backups, traffic on I-93 creates significant air-quality and health challenges for residents living near the highway, many of whom are low-income and are more likely to get sick from the pollution exposure, but often can’t afford to move or protect their homes from the unnatural elements.”

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Green Line, Health Issues, Transportation News
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Yeah, that’s what regional travel demand can feel like

regional-travel-demand

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Health Issues
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Living near highways is bad for your health

“New evidence of the dangers of living near highways” (Boston Globe)

A new study of Boston residents who live or spend a significant amount of time near Interstate 93 and the Massachusetts Turnpike has found that their exposure to microscopic metals and chemicals spewed from vehicles increases their chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

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Health Issues
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Improving health in communities near highways: An important new report

CAFEH study map
STEP has been a long-time partner in CAFEH, the Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure and Health Study, which serves as the larger umbrella for 5 related community-based participatory research (CBPR) air pollution studies. Their new report, “Improving Health in Communities Near Highways: Design Solutions from a Charrette,” summarizes effective design approaches to reducing near highway residents’ exposure to traffic-related air pollution. Specific locations in Chinatown and Somerville are used as case studies.

Download the full CAFEH report.
Boston Globe coverage: “Study warns of microscopic pollution.”
Download a 2-page crib sheet from Wig.
Any questions? Email us at info@somervillestep.org.

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Health Issues
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Car emissions are deadlier than car crashes

A research team led by Fabio Caiazzo of MIT recently quantified the impact of air pollution and premature death in the United States for the year 2005. They found that road-related particulate matter was responsible for about 19% more deaths, nationwide, than car crashes. Read all about it.
Our own Wig Zamore adds:
Unfortunately, the air pollution death valuation is WAY LOW because only traffic contributions to regional, as opposed to local, pollution are counted. Experienced and well regarded southern California environmental health scientists will soon publish a heath impact assessment study suggesting that in 2035 local traffic related air pollution in southern California will be responsible for as many deaths per year as total regional fine particle pollution. Given how much smaller the near roadway population is this is a stunning outcome!
This suggests that the total local and regional traffic pollution deaths are about three times what this article suggests. In general the colder a region is, the higher the ratio of local traffic emissions effects to regional traffic emission effects. Cold weather drives higher local primary pollution concentrations and gradients, warm weather drives higher regional secondary pollution concentrations.

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Health Issues
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Motor vehicle pollution a major contributor to American deaths

Two recent independent studies now suggest that simply living near major roadways and breathing harmful emissions from motor vehicles might be an even greater threat to U.S. health than accidents are. Read more.

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