New Tool Helps Gauge Air Quality at Neighborhood Level
The Atlanta Roadside Emissions Exposure Study (AREES) focuses on exposure to pollution at a human scale, with a goal of understanding how local-scale air quality is impacted by changes to the transportation system.
Before AREES, ARC could only gauge pollution levels in a regional context, as part of the transportation system, as required by federal law. AREES enables ARC to evaluate air pollution at the neighborhood level.
This tool enables regional transportation planners to prioritize transportation-related projects that will ease congestion in areas with poor air quality. And it will help local governments and residents make decisions about where to locate sensitive facilities, such as schools, parks and trails, in a way that minimizes exposure to vehicle emissions.
The methodology used to develop AREES is transferrable to other communities that are able to model transportation and emissions. The information provided in the supporting documentation explains the modeling process.
Interactive Air Quality Map
Using AREES, ARC has created an interactive map that depicts air quality throughout the 20-county Atlanta region, focusing on particulate matter concentrations resulting from the transportation system. Note that transportation is just one source of particulate matter pollution, and the numbers modeled do not represent the total concentration at any one location.
Users are able to magnify the map to show air quality in their neighborhood along with sensitive sites such as schools and hospitals.
The Atlanta Region’s Plan and Future Work
The AREES project supports the vision of the Atlanta Region’s Plan Policy Framework . Applying the results of the tool can help mitigate the impacts of impaired air quality on residents of the region.
The results from AREES were used by ARC as an air quality performance measure in transportation project evaluation, scenario planning and decision-making during the development of the Atlanta Region’s Plan. Technical documentation for the plan outlines the methodology.
Future work to compare AREES outputs with U.S. Census, public health and land-use data will enable ARC to evaluate health risks among vulnerable populations, potential environmental justice issues and other localized impacts of vehicle emissions.