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CTA responds to Windsor air quality study

OTTAWA, Ont. -- The CTA has responded to the new study conducted by Ontario's Ministry of the Environment on air qu...

OTTAWA, Ont. — The CTA has responded to the new study conducted by Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment on air quality along Huron Church Rd. in Windsor.

The study, “Preliminary Air Quality Assessment Related to Traffic Congestion at Windsor’s Ambassador Bridge,” released last week finds that when traffic is moving smoothly along Huron Church Rd., the air quality impact from trucks is minimal, but when there are border delays that cause stop and go conditions, the impact could be enough to raise the air quality index by one level.

According to the CTA, the study should be a wake up call for federal, provincial and municipal politicians to get on with meaningful improvements to smooth traffic along the approach to the country’s busiest border crossing.

David Bradley, president of the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) says that he hopes the study “will convince city council to re-consider its opposition to some of the key elements of the $300 million nine-point action plan previously agreed to by the provincial and federal governments.”

Public concerns over truck traffic in the city have been cited as reasons why city council opposed the federal/provincial plan. According to Bradley, “getting trucks through Windsor and across the border faster is not only good for Ontario’s economy, it’s better for local air quality.”

The study specifically examined the emission levels of particulate matter (PM) which has been linked to respiratory ailments and cancer. Special monitoring devices placed at various points along Huron Church Road found that when truck traffic was moving at a steady pace the impact on the local PM inventory was negligible.

The study suggests that other influences, such as trans-boundary pollution from the Ohio Valley, dust tires and weather conditions may be at play – not just diesel exhaust. For example, the study references previous work that estimated as much as 90 per cent of Windsor’s smog problem may be related to trans-boundary air pollution.
While not even the CTA would deny that trucks, trains, cars and other transportation modes have an impact on air quality, it must be kept in perspective. The study states: “As in most cases, the influence of the traffic on local (Windsor) air quality is noticeable but not overwhelming.”

Bradley says the results are not really all that surprising.

“PM emissions from today’s trucks are over 80 per cent lower than the trucks that were built not that many years ago. Moreover, U.S. and Canadian law requires that the emission of PM and NOx, another precursor of smog, must be virtually eliminated by the time the 2007 model year trucks come onto the market,” says Bradley.

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