Ko Chun Ming writes:*
Traffic-related pollution is a growing health concern for Canadians living in large cities.
The main reason why this problem occurs is because large cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary attract growing numbers of people from all over the country who are seeking out job opportunities and a diversity of life experiences. While migration to large cities is positive for the economy, this growth is accompanied by increased traffic and gas emissions. Another reason why this problem occurs is that many citizens remain unaware of the impacts of traffic pollution. For this reason, many fail to alter their traveling habits.
In addition to pollution exposure directly from traffic, it is estimated that 10 million Canadians are exposed to pollutants because of their close proximity to major urban roads. Health experts claim that this type of exposure is linked to many health problems, including heart disease, pulmonary problems, lung cancer, and premature births.
Health experts have identified four main solutions to this problem. First, people can reduce vehicle emissions by purchasing electric or hybrid cars. Second, governments could improve infrastructure by creating more efficient roadways and new cycling routes. Third, governments could adopt new city management that places buildings further away from major roadways. Fourth, governments could reduce congestion by educating the general public about the impacts of traffic-related pollution and by encouraging new traveling habits.
Bottom Line: Traffic-related pollution can be mitigated by new infrastructure policies and greater citizen awareness about the nature and impacts of this growing problem.
* These guest posts are from students in my resource economics class at Simon Fraser University. Please leave feedback on their logic, ideas and style and suggestions of how to improve.