Planning for an uncertain future

Traffic forecasts and other projections are often presented as a single line on a graph or number in a chart. But we know—now more than ever—that these predictions are full of uncertainties. The Sacramento Council of Governments (SACOG), for a new study in JAPA, puts hard numbers to some of those uncertainties in order to plan better for them.

Exposure to particulate pollution shown to increase COVID-19 death rate

A new paper under review presents evidence that exposure to pollution—including that from motor vehicles—reduces the survival rate of individuals who have contracted COVID-19. Those most at risk of death have underlying diseases which may be due to, or exacerbated by, long-term pollution exposure. This adds to the mounting awareness that disadvantaged communities may disproportionately bear the brunt of the effects of COVID-19.

Major American automakers eying SUVs over electric vehicles

Transitioning to electric power has been a major focus of state and local agencies trying to meet ambitious emissions reduction goals. That involves rolling out more charging stations, bolstering the grid, and offering incentives for drivers to go electric; but consumers will also need plenty of cars to choose from. American-made options, however, are going to be limited.

Residential exposure to local traffic emissions associated with higher risk of stroke

A recent study finds that long-term residential exposure to locally emitted black carbon—primarily from traffic exhaust—is associated with higher stroke incidence. BC comprises a significant portion of particulate matter. Although BC is a known health hazard with health effects that are especially pronounced in populations in dense urban areas, the U.S. does not currently include it as a separate criteria pollutant in its National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Proximity to highways affects long-term school performance

A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research extends our knowledge of the effects of attending school near major roadways. Previous studies have found short-term effects on test scores, behavior, and school absences on days of poor air quality, but this new research shows that long-term school performance and test scores can be affected by attending school downwind of highways.

Nine states and DC move forward on transportation carbon pricing alliance

Nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, plus the District of Columbia, announced Tuesday that they would design a joint climate strategy over the next year and then put it up for state-by-state adoption. The policy will, according to the joint announcement, “reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels through a cap-and-invest program or other pricing mechanism, and allow each … jurisdiction to invest proceeds from the program into low-carbon and more resilient transportation infrastructure.”

Nine states and DC move forward on transportation carbon pricing alliance

Nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, plus the District of Columbia, announced Tuesday that they would design a joint climate strategy over the next year and then put it up for state-by-state adoption. The policy will, according to the joint announcement, “reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels through a cap-and-invest program or other pricing mechanism, and allow each … jurisdiction to invest proceeds from the program into low-carbon and more resilient transportation infrastructure.”

Ecommerce fulfillment centers increasing freight pollution, congestion in rural towns

In order to keep up with ever-increasing ecommerce demand, companies such as Amazon are building sprawling new fulfillment centers on the outer edges of major U.S. metro areas to aid in their logistical operations. While these warehouses can provide a windfall in economic development for the rural towns where they are being constructed, a recent article found that, increasingly, communities are finding these facilities are more trouble than they’re worth. Specifically, the jobs and tax revenue being generated don’t outweigh negative impacts caused by freight pollution and traffic congestion.

Gas stations venting ten times more gas vapor than once believed

Exposure to the chemicals contained in gasoline vapor poses serious risk to human health. Technologies have been implemented to reduce the amount of gasoline vapor released along the supply chain and during the routine fueling of vehicles. The evaporative loss during storage has been largely under-addressed, due to the perception that the quantity lost is fairly small. New research reveals that vent-pipe-emissions from underground storage tanks may be an order of magnitude higher than previously believed, and that people in proximity to these vents may experience an elevated exposure risk.