The study was conducted by a research team from the University of Toronto, Canada, as more than 1/3 of Canadian people live near main highways.
The team monitored and collected data regarding emissions from vehicles in the cities of Toronto and Vancouver that accommodate the highest proportion of houses located near roads.
According to Dr. Greg Evans, leader of the study and Professor of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at the University of Toronto, there is a mixture of many pollutants including carbon monoxide, ultrafine particles, nitrogen oxides and others that people are exposed too. Those substances are harmful and are associated with many health problems (asthma, cancer and heart issues) that people develop. "The areas of concern we identified raise important questions about the health of Canadians living near major roadways,” Prof. Evans, stated.
Despite being a minority of the total vehicles on roads, diesel trucks are the most detrimental as they emit massive amounts of pollutants. According to the report, there is no standard for deriving the limit of diesel exhaust concentration. However, the concentration that was measured near the major roads exceeded the regulations that exist in the Netherlands for laborers. Therefore, it is higher than it should be for people's exposure. Prof. Evans stated that addressing this phenomenon should be of high priority. “If these highly polluting diesel trucks were repaired, retrofitted, removed or relocated, it would make a significant difference. You can’t move your nearby schools or homes, but we can do something about these highly-polluting trucks that are a small proportion of the truck traffic, and yet causing a lot of the trouble,” he said.
Canada's weather is not an ally when it comes to dealing with pollutants. Cold temperature and high winds lead to an increase in nitrogen oxides and ultrafine particle concentrations.
The researchers found out that the levels of ultrafine particles near major roadways were 4 times higher than those in places far from traffic. The impact of those particles in health has not been adequately studied and understood yet. “These particles are less than 100 nanometers in size, much smaller than red blood cells. They can travel and trans-locate around the body. We don’t know yet what the health impacts of these particles are but we do know that near roads, they are a good indicator of exposure to traffic pollution,” Prof. Evans, stated.
Source: University of Toronto