In 2016, Public Health Ontario released an interactive web report and infographic on the topic of traffic-related air pollution (TRAP). This report provides a definition for TRAP, highlights some of the key health impacts from TRAP, describes recent trends in TRAP across Ontario and identifies some of the populations most at risk to the health impacts of TRAP.
From 2003 to 2015, the average annual concentrations of NO, NO2 and NOx, pollutants which are associated with traffic, decreased significantly at the Barrie monitoring station; however, the annual mean concentration of PM2.5 (another traffic-related pollutant) did not change significantly over this 13 year time-period. Decreases in air pollutant concentrations can be attributed to reductions in emissions from both vehicles and industrial sources. Despite improvements in overall air quality, those who spend large amounts of time on or near major roads and highways, including commuters, remain at risk of high exposure to TRAP.
Living within 100 m of a major road or within 500 m of a highway–way is considered to be within the TRAP exposure area and is associated with the onset and worsening of asthma in children as well as other adverse health outcomes. In Simcoe Muskoka in 2011, less than one-in-five (17.6%) residents lived in a TRAP-exposed area, which was lower than the one-quarter (27.8 %) of the overall Ontario population that lived inside TRAP-exposed areas. Children, seniors, and people with pre-existing health conditions are more vulnerable to the adverse health effects related to TRAP exposure. Many institutions that serve these vulnerable populations, like elementary schools and long-term care homes for seniors, are located with-in a TRAP-exposed area.