Friday, December 17, 2010

Planning for Air Quality

Planning Information Sheet: Influencing Air Quality with Comprehensive Planning and Ordinances (16 page pdf, Design For Health, University of Minnesota, August 2007)

Also discussed here: Designing communities for health: tools and resources (Kaid Benfield’s Blog, Nov. 29, 2010)

The report reviewed today comes from a program called “Design for Health” in Minnesota and deals specifically with air pollution from both mobile and stationary area sources.

Key Quotes:

“three main categories of air pollution: area sources (e.g., dry cleaners and gas stations), mobile sources (e.g., cars and trucks) and stationary sources (e.g., factories and power plants). Area sources collectively represent individual sources that are small and numerous and that have not been inventoried as specific point, mobile or biological sources”

“Key issue areas that planners can consider .. include: promoting buffering and landscape standards, developing ordinances with evidence-based thresholds, separating some land uses to protect certain groups, and creating ordinances and overlay districts that focus on polluting uses, such as dry cleaners and airports”

“Addressing pollution from mobile sources is a complex matter, with planners typically focusing on influencing land-use patterns and travel behavior. For vehicle-related air pollution: land use is linked with travel behavior (trip time, trip length, community characteristics, and speed); travel behavior is linked with vehicle emissions; and air quality is linked with health”

motor-vehicle emissions are the primary source of most fine and ultra-fine particles, which are particularly dangerous, because they can deeply embed themselves within the lungs..Health impacts are of particular concern for those living near major roadways”

“Establishing a recommended buffer distance from roadways for air-quality purposes is difficult, as results from the literature are mixed. We recommend a buffer somewhere between 200m and 500m (656-1640 ft) of major roads”

[San Francisco] objectives related to a broad range of air-quality issues, including:

  • "adherence to state and federal quality standards and regional programs,

  • reduction of mobile sources of air pollution through implementation of the transportation element of the general plan,

  • decrease in the air-quality impacts of development by coordination of land use and transportation decisions,

  • improvement of air quality by increasing public awareness regarding the negative effects of pollutants generated by stationary and mobile sources,

  • minimization of particulate matter emissions from road and construction sites, and

  • linkage to the positive effects of energy conservation and waste management to emissions reductions"

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