Letter: Air quality monitoring suggested for Highway 1 in Salmon Arm

Writer highlights health impacts from motor-vehicle traffic exhaust

Anything that can be done to reduce truck noise in the city has my strong support (‘Putting the brakes on truck noise…’ Oct. 10).

Ten years ago, I and some neighbours living near the highway signed a petition asking the city to request that the Ministry of Transportation erect a sign directing traffic approaching from the east to ‘Avoid Use of Engine Brakes in Urban Areas.’

But the response was negative, the rationale being that trucks need to be able to use engine brakes as they descend the hill into downtown Salmon Arm in order to prevent accidents. Thus I’m puzzled to read that, “the city does have a traffic bylaw that prohibits the use of engine brakes within its boundary.”

I am even more concerned about the health impacts of pollution from motor vehicles. An annual daily average of 23,862 vehicles pass through Salmon Arm, and about 1,500 of these are heavy trucks.

Vehicle exhaust is linked to health problems such as asthma and lung disease. Children are particularly vulnerable because they inhale more air per pound of body weight.

Read more: Salmon Arm residents urge ban on use of Jake brakes in city

Read more: UBC study shows honey bees can help monitor pollution in cities

Read more: Global carbon pollution on the rise

Of even greater concern are the ultra-fine particulates in vehicle exhaust – small bits of unburnt fuel that are associated with a range of negative health effects. These particulates can enter the bloodstream. They can get into a pregnant woman’s womb and affect the growing fetus.

Particulates can also bypass the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain through our olfactory structures, thus increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A study of six million Ontario residents showed that living within 50 metres of a major roadway was associated with a seven to 11 per cent increase in the incidence of dementia.

I believe the city should arrange for air quality monitors to be installed along the TCH so that citizens can at least know what we’re being exposed to.

Anne Morris


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

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