Air pollution, traffic accidents, obesity and climate change: four main arguments that our overuse of the automobile is bad for our health. See Direction de santé publique’s annual report from 2006 and their brief submitted to the BAPE for more details.
Air pollution hurts our most vulnerable populations: young children, pregnant women and seniors.
1) Children are more vulnerable than adults
Highways connected to the Turcot go through several residential neighbourhoods.
Children living or going to school near major traffic arteries are more likely to develop pulmonary or asthmatic symptoms related to the density of the traffic or the concentration of the contaminants generated by transportation.
2) Pregnant women are at risk
Montreal studies show an increased risk of babies born with low birth weight of women living near highways. Multiple studies link higher rates of miscarriage, low birth weight and other troubles during pregnancy to women living within 200 metres of highways.
3) Local air pollution also hurts seniors
The risk of hospitalization for respiratory problems for Montrealers 60 years or over is higher among those living along high traffic routes than those living on quieter streets. Increased traffic on the Turcot Interchange will hurt them, too.
Smargiassi,A. et. al. (2006) Traffic intensity dwelling value and hospital admissions for respiratory disease among the elderly in Montreal (Canada): a case-control analysis From: Community Health 2006 Vol. 60 pp. 507-512.
4) Pollution costs Montrealers their lives
The Direction de santé publique de Montreal, Montreal’s health authority, reports that 1300 Montrealers die prematurely from air pollution each year. Of these, 259 are linked directly to air pollution from the transport sector. More cars on the Turcot means more premature deaths overall.
Overuse of the car is linked to the alarming growth in obesity rates.
Obesity rates have been on the increase across North America for decades, and in Quebec as well. Studies show that 25 minutes of walking a day can make a major difference to your weight. People who take mass-transit…walk 24 minutes a day!
Traffic accidents and vulnerable road users:
1) More cars, more road accidents
There is a direct relationship between the number of cars on the road and the number of road accidents causing death or serious injury. Disturbingly, a disproportionate number of those accidents are concentrated in low-income neighborhoods.
2) Deaths down, but serious injuries are up
In Quebec, road accidents account for 50 000 injured people each year, of whom 600 to 700 die. There is a downward trend in the number of deaths in Quebec, due to improved emergency health care. However, total injuries are up. (Source: SAAQ)