Case Study on The Atmospheric Chemistry Data on Air Pollution

The Atmospheric Chemistry Data on Air Pollution

Abstract

The study describes and evaluates major atmospheric chemistry data of Toronto and in Hamilton. The study researches on data from Air Quality Ontario monitoring network. While describing chemical data the major focus is to establish air pollution patterns in Toronto and in Hamilton. The selection of the two regions is due to the proneness and pollution rates, and proximity to the controlling network. These two locations represent urban regions where people are living and working. As samples over urban population, data derived will be used to determine the effects of public health and the environment over the long period. From analysis of the studies, the major cause of air pollution has been traffic, which has had significant effects. The figure below further gives the impact of the common air contaminants. It has been discovered that PM2.5, O3, and NO2, contribute the most to cardiovascular and respiratory ill health, which account for 69%, 13%, and 14% of premature mortality and about 11%, 44%, and 38% of hospitalizations. The study discovers that air pollution through bad air in Toronto downtown is greater in Hamilton downtown. Toronto aims at healthier air even as it implement policies and programs at all government levels to reduce emissions that results to downward trends in pollutant emissions, and health effects. It is therefore necessary to reduce traffic emissions for continued improvements to air quality.

 

 

 

Introduction

Other than finding out the variation in air quality of the locations, the study offers rationale behind the findings from the research. Highest percentage will be derived from the calculated means of the presence of air composition in the long-term period, while highest peak will be the highest value of the components indicators from the data analysis. The study further determines whether air pollution through bad air in Toronto downtown is greater in Hamilton downtown.

Methods

The study researches on data from Air Quality Ontario monitoring network in addition to other studies conducted within the last ten years. The study analyzes eight studies to determine the rate of air pollution in Toronto and in Hamilton.

Results

From analysis of the studies, the major cause of air pollution has been traffic, which has had significant effects. The figure below further gives the impact of the common air contaminants. It has been discovered that PM2.5, O3, and NO2, contribute the most to cardiovascular and respiratory ill health, which account for 69%, 13%, and 14% of premature mortality and about 11%, 44%, and 38% of hospitalizations, respectively (Gower, Macfarlane, Belmont, Bassil, & Campbell, 2016).

Figure 1: Pollutant Contributions to Air Quality Burden of Illness, Toronto, 2009

 

(Gower, Macfarlane, Belmont, Bassil, & Campbell, 2016)

Figure 2: Pyramid of Health Effects from Traffic-Related Air Pollution

(Gower, Macfarlane, Belmont, Bassil, & Campbell, 2016)

Among the highest levels of air pollution in the city come from NOx, which transforms in the air to NO2, one of the common pollutants consistently linked to health impacts. Relatively high concentrations of the gas occur in stated highways with the darker colors in the figure representing higher concentrations of the gas.

Figure 3: NOx levels across the City of Toronto, 2006

(Gower, Macfarlane, Belmont, Bassil, & Campbell, 2016)

In general, the figure below summarizes trends in ambient air pollution for the five major pollutants in Toronto in 2000-2011

Figure 4: Trends in air pollution in Toronto in 2000-2011

 

(Toronto, 2013)

The table below summarizes the quality of air in terms of concentrations.

Table 1: Provincial Concentrations

Decreasing Provincial Ambient Concentrations
NO2 ↓41%

(2002-2011)

CO ↓35%

(2002-2011

SO2 ↓52%

(2002-2011)

PM2.5 ↓30%

(2003-2011)

(Toronto, 2013)

Table 2: Ozone and PM25 CAAQS Metric Values for designated sites on Ontario

City/Town 8h Ozone

(ppb)

24h PM2.5

μg/m3

Annual PM2.5

μg/m3

Windsor Downtown 77 20 8.1
Hamilton Downtown 66 24 8.8
Hamilton Mountain 71 21 7.4
Toronto 70 19 7.3

 

Table 3: Table showing Ozone Data for 2013

City Location Maximum No. of Times Above Criterion  
Valid h 10% 30% 50% 90% 99% Ave 1h 24h 1h  
Hamilton Downtown Elgin St./Kelly St. 8720 9 30 41 59 25.0 86 58 3
Toronto Downtown Bay St./Wellesley St. W. 8743 10 32 43 60 26.2 90 54 3

 

Table 4: 2013 NO Annual Statistics

ID City Location Maximum  
Valid h 10% 30% 50% 90% 99% Ave 1h 24h  
29000 Hamilton Downtown Elgin St./Kelly St. 8730 0 3 10 48 4.3 148 32
31103 Toronto Downtown Bay St./Wellesley St. W. 8744 0 2 7 27 2.7 85 17

 

Table 5: 2013 Sulphur Dioxide Annual Statistics

City Maximum No. of Times Above Criteria  
Valid h 10% 30% 50% 90% 99% Ave 1h 24h 1h 24h 1y
2 7 22 2.4 48 13 0 0 0  
2 8 23 2.6 52 15 0 0 0  
3 10 45 3.8 144 31 0 0 0  
2 17 50 4.8 100 43 0 0 0  
2 7 27 2.8 78 26 0 0 0  
1 1 5 0.6 15 5 0 0 0  
1 2 7 0.7 40 6 0 0 0  
1 1 2 0.3 6 3 0 0 0  
0 1 17 0.8 62 10 0 0 0  
1 8 44 2.8 198 26 0 0 0  

 

Table 6: Burden of Illness Summary for Toronto Estimated from the HAQI Model

OUTCOME Non-traumatic

Mortality

Respiratory

Hospital

Admissions

Cardiac

Hospital

Admissions

Congestive Heart

Failure in Elderly

(age >64)

PM10 226 555 812  
SO4 119 (405*) 170 169  
CO 441   274 439
NO2 511 1234 2207  
SO2 119 172    
O3 59 199 2155  
TOTAL

(using PM10 but

not SO4)

1356 2160 5448  

 

Discussion

Comparison between Air pollution in Toronto and in Hamilton Downtown

Tables 5 and 6 answers research question 1, that sought to find out how pollution influence the work in the monitoring stations. Due to continuous pollution, the stations have to monitor constantly the rate and the effects to evaluate any variations with respect to increased policies. From the tables therefore, it is evident that Toronto aims at healthier air by implementing policies and programs at all government levels to reduce emissions that results to downward trends in pollutant emissions, and health effects. Since they are yet to attain the minimal level of pollution, there is still much for its government to accomplish.

From the study by Maynard (2001), in 2004, at least 1,700 premature deaths were contributed by air pollution. A decade later, air pollution is still a major impact of health complications of residents, despite the improvements. Air pollution is estimated to have resulted to 1,300 premature deaths by 2014. These pollutions are emitted within the boundaries of the city, with the major source from on-road vehicles. Traffic in this region still accounts for at least 42% of premature deaths and 55% of the hospitalizations. These values symbolize a decrease when compared with the 2007 estimates that resulted to at least 1,700 hospitalizations. Figures 1 and 2 above summarizes the effects of traffic as a major contributor to air pollution.

Best Air Quality

As one moves northward and eastward across the province, the quality of air also improves (Sahsuvaroglu, et al, 2009). Nevertheless, the formation and movement of smog greatly depends on meteorological conditions. During summer, the smog period is usually countered as part of the regional weather as it prevails over the northeastern north America. At the lower Great Lakes region, the heightened levels of the ozone and fine particulate matter depict the necessary weather patterns. The related weather patterns are invariably related to the slow- progressing high-pressure cells within the region and consequence of the long-range transport of smog pollutants from the bordering industrial and urbanized regions during the shifting of the warm air to northeast from southwest.

From the studies, air pollutants are made of numerous forms and from a wider range of sources (Clean Air Partnership, 2015). The most dangerous air pollutants are derived from gases and particles that contribute to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. The pollutants are usually collected under the term ‘smog’. In Ontario, the region is heavily defined by the presence of smog generated by contaminants, which are released in the event of combustion of fossil fuels in vehicles, power plants and factory boilers and homes. Industrial processes release these contaminants, evaporation of the liquid fuels and by applications of solvents and other volatile products like oil-based paints. Contaminants that result to smog are majorly released in the event of forest fires and emitted by natural sources like trees, and volcanic activities. From the analysis of the Ontario data report, most of the smog-associated challenges in Ontario are a consequence of the combination of the local emissions and pollutants conveyed by wind from the sources of pollution in the country. Therefore, more than half of the smog complications are derived from the south of the border (Clean Air Partnership, 2015).

Ontario

Ontario remains a committed region in terms of reduction of emission and improvement of air quality. This finding answers the third research question on the proposal that finds out why data of SO2 was absent in 2011-2014 Toronto Downtown report. There was a reduction of nitrogen oxides and in volatile organics by emission testing the motor vehicles and enforcement through patrol of smog. Within North America, Ontario recorded the highest results in climate change. This can be traced back in 2014 when the region became the first to eliminate these contaminants (Pengelly, 2000). In terms of greener fuel, Ontario filed for the use of greener diesel to support the use of greener diesel fuels for air improvement and reduction of greenhouse gas emission within the transportation sector. The region has also been on the forefront to implement climate change action plan where the targets are expected to be 6% below 1990 emission levels by 2014, 15% below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Besides these standards, the region has established and enforced strict air standards as a form of protection of the local communities. The region is presently developing cleaner sources of energy such as wind and solar energies to replace coal-fired generation.

Hamilton

As the ninth largest city in Canada, Hamilton experiences infinite levels of exposure to pollution for several reasons including traffic and industrial activities. The city has well-reported spatial variability of air pollution with major industrial activities within the northeast and lower southern and western parts of the city; a finding that answers research question 4 on the reason for variation of patterns as observed at different sites.. Variation in the air pollution exposure within the community is associated with the prevalence of asthma. Studies conducted on the same depict inconsistent findings due to errors in measurement of the exposures between the two monitoring stations. This finding comprehensively answers research question 2. Just like in Toronto, Hamilton region is largely polluted by contaminants such as NO2, which is closely associated with asthma. The effect is a consequence of the prevailing winds, location of the industries, and temperature inversions, which trap the pollutants near ground level and topographical elevation (Ontario, 2013). Both Toronto and Hamilton portray proximity to traffic and high exposures to air pollution, and as a result translated to cardiovascular and stroke mortality rates (Maynard, 2001).

Chemical composition in the air in Toronto and Hamilton

According to Ontario (2013), the region enjoys an inclusive air examination system, with 40 controlled sites that undergo strict data quality assurance and control for high quality data. The recordings are useful in determining the present condition of ambient air quality. From the report, the major air pollutants are (O3), (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and total reduced sulphur (TRS) compounds (Ontario, 2013). From the data derived Hamilton still lags behind in air pollution whereas in Toronto, significant changes can be seen from the effects and impacts earlier caused by the same pollutants. Thus, the differences between the two monitoring stations are discovered thus answering research question 2. From the 2012 monitored data the premier average was 33.9 (ppb) at Port Stanley, while the lowest mean 21.5 ppb, was measured at Toronto West (Ontario, 2013).

Major atmospheric chemistry data of Toronto and in Hamilton

According to Ontario (2013), air quality is increasing in the regions. This is a long term trend in urban air. This finding is highly useful as it depicts future trends and depicted from the stations. This finding answers research question 5, which sought to find out long term trends in urban air. This view is with respect to the 2011 report that documented 41 years of reporting of the air quality. Air quality is said to improve significantly especially for (NO2), (CO) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). It is thus of great essence to determine the local sources when looking for a place to live. Residents within the region are advised to stay away from the region with high industrial activities and major roadways. This is because numerous negative effects are related to the effects of emissions from the vehicles on the highway. These effects include the distance from the highway, traffic congestion and volume and predominant wind directions. In general, it has been discovered that the air concentration from the highway reduces with the distance from the roadway. Classically, shifting 100 meters from the edge of the road has been discovered to reduce the pollutant concentration by 80% (Toronto Environment and Energy Office, 2011). Moreover, trees do filter the air, and thus areas without trees have poor quality air than the quarters with trees.

Monitoring of the Network regarding Chemical Concentrations (NO2) (O3) and (SO2) in the air

According to Gower, Macfarlane, Belmont, Bassil, & Campbell (2016), gaseous pollutants, SO3, NO2 and CO naturally occur at a very small percentage and are derived from human-made activities. The table 2 above summarizes the burden of illness in Toronto as an effect of air pollution. The values applied for the calculation of the burden of illness for ozone and PM10 are derived by subtracting background levels of 30 ppb and 5 ug/m3 respectively. The findings reflect very recent health studies conducted after the HAQI study was conducted.

Little evidence in the air quality is related to the ambient CO with respiratory admission to hospital (Pengelly, 2000). There is however an association with cardiac admission to hospital in people above 65 years old. The level of mortality related to these gases couples the need to strengthen the initiatives to minimize transport related sources. NO2 remains the major contributor of pollutants by 511 and is associated with respiratory and cardiac hospitalization. The coefficient of the admissions is the largest in a single pollutant. Even though mean daily degree of SO2 in Toronto is below Hamilton, a substantial SO2 related morbidity and mortality are related with the prevailing degrees. From previous studies, little attention has been paid on illnesses related to SO2 gas. Presently at least 110 premature deaths and 170 respiratory admissions in the hospitals are associated with the SO2 exposure (Pengelly, 2000).

Conclusion

In conclusion, air pollution through bad air in Toronto downtown is greater in Hamilton downtown. Toronto aims at healthier air even as it implement policies and programs at all government levels to reduce emissions that results to downward trends in pollutant emissions, and health effects. It is therefore necessary to reduce traffic emissions for continued improvements to air quality. This can only be possible through shift to healthier alternatives such as mitigating the effects from traffic and reduction of the natural gas for cleaner air in the region.

 

References

Clean Air Partnership (2015). Collaborative Air Quality Monitoring Strategy: Background and

Opportunities. Report prepared for: Healthy Public Policy Team, Toronto Public Health.

Gower, S., Macfarlane, R., Belmont, M. Bassil, K. & Campbell, M. (2016). Path to Healthier

Air: Toronto Air Pollution Burden of Illness Update. Toronto Public Health.

Maynard, R. L. (2001). Asthma and urban air pollution. Clinical & Experimental Allergy.

31:518–520. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2222.2001.01059.x

Ontario. (2013). Air Quality in Ontario. Report for 2011. 1-96

Pengelly, D., et al. (2000). Air Pollution Burden of Illness in Toronto. City of Toronto. Toronto.

Public Health Ontario (PHO). (2013). Review of Air Quality Index and Air Quality Health Index.

Available from http://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/eRepository/Air_Quality_Indeces_Report_2013.pdf

Sahsuvaroglu, T. et al (2009). Spatial analysis of air pollution and childhood asthma in Hamilton,

Canada: comparing exposure methods in sensitive subgroups. Environmental Health. 8(14).

Toronto Environment and Energy Office. (2011). An All Sources Cumulative Air Quality Impact

Study of South Riverdale-Leslieville-Beaches. Available from http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=95cf9bc4a5991410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD&vgnextfmt=default