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Letter: Peace Bridge traffic harms health of nearby residents

Peace Bridge traffic harms health of nearby residents

With regard to plans to renovate the Peace Bridge plaza, the health effects of bridge traffic are substantial. Reports in the scientific literature state that traffic-related pollutant concentrations high enough to affect health extend up to 500 meters from the source. An air monitoring study I performed in 2014-15 showed ultrafine particle levels to be elevated at least 500 meters downwind from the plaza, consistent with the findings of a study performed by Harvard scientists in 2005-06.

Other components of traffic-related pollution are likely to disperse at least that far. Over 1,650 people live within 500 meters of the plaza. In addition, truck counts reported in a recent New York State Department of Environmental Conservation air monitoring study indicate that as many as 40 percent of the trucks on Interstate 190 are bridge traffic.

More than 8,700 people live within 500 meters of I-190 between downtown and Tonawanda, some in apartment buildings less than 100 meters from the road. Evidence shows traffic-related air pollution can cause asthma attacks and heart attacks in people with pre-existing disease and may also contribute to development of asthma, heart disease and increased risk of low birth weight and preterm infants, as well as processes that contribute to disease, such as inflammation, pro-oxidation and impaired immune function.

Moving inspection to the Canadian side will not solve this problem. The same number of trucks will be crossing the bridge and using I-190, exposing thousands of West Side residents to the hazards of traffic-related air pollution.

William Scheider

Clarence Center

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