In 2011, the City initiated a series of local air quality studies to evaluate the presence of pollutants and the potential cumulative health impacts of these pollutants on local communities. The studies were conducted by City's Environment & Energy Division and Toronto Public Health, in partnership with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).
- identify the sources and concentrations of 30 pollutants that have the most potential to affect local air quality
- determine which of the 30 substances (if any) exceed air quality standards (AAQC and CWS)
- assess the cumulative health impacts of the 30 substances (see below) on local residents
- set priorities and determine strategies to reduce exposure and improve the health of Toronto residents.
The study included emissions data from Toronto, Southern Ontario and the northeastern United States, and from all sources - including industrial, commercial, residential, transportation-related, agricultural, and natural. A computer model was used to calculate and map the concentrations of 30 air pollutants in specific areas of Toronto.
In the studies completed to date, the key sources of emissions affecting local air quality were:
- Road vehicles
- Fuels used to heat and cool homes and businesses.
Computer modelling of air quality across Toronto shows that although air quality has generally improved over the past decade, concentrations of traffic-related air pollution are seen to be significantly elevated along and near the major roadways and highways of Toronto.
The Environment and Energy Division (EED) in partnership with Toronto Public Health (TPH) continue to assess traffic-related air pollution in Toronto and are working to develop and recommend measures that individuals and organizations can take to address, and reduce exposure to, traffic-related air pollution.
- Clean Air Council - The Clean Air Council is a network of 28 municipalities and health units from across the Greater Toronto, Hamilton and Southern Ontario Area who work collaboratively on the development and implementation of clean air and climate change mitigation and adaptation actions. The City of Toronto has been a member and financial supporter of the CAC since 1991.
- Advocacy: Federal emission standards - In November 2014, the Environment and Energy Division and Toronto Public Health responded to the Federal Government's consultation on Regulations Amending the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations and Other Regulations Made Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (proposed ORVEER amendments, Canada Gazette Part I). The City asked the federal government to improve the regulation to reduce heavy-duty vehicle emissions. A disproportionate amount of transportation-related air pollution comes from heavy-duty vehicles. Based on Government of Canada data, in 2009 heavy-duty vehicles, which account for 1.5% of vehicles in Canada, were responsible for almost 80% of PM2.5 emissions and over half of NOX emissions from vehicles in Ontario.
- Advocacy: Provincial regulations and programs - In March, 2015, as part of its submission to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change's Climate Change Discussion Paper, the Environment & Energy Division encouraged the province to provide regulations and programs to retire conventional diesel and gasoline heavy duty vehicles and engines and support alternatives, innovation and technological research in urban goods movement delivery including transportation information systems, low carbon last mile goods delivery vehicles, and public transit options for goods movement.
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