My World: How Does I-81 Impact the Atmosphere?

Loading ....

For a brand new WMRA collection known as My World, earlier this 12 months we requested native science college students to submit their questions in regards to the surroundings.  We obtained numerous nice questions, and chosen one from Olivia Gardner, who simply graduated in June.  She requested in regards to the environmental well being of Interstate 81. WMRA’s Bridget Manley produced a two-part report.  Right here’s Half One.

[Cars and trucks driving by….]

Interstate 81 is among the most vital and most-traveled north-south highways on the east coast. With greater than 325 miles between the state borders at West Virginia and Tennessee, I-81 cuts by 21 cities and cities, 25 schools and universities, and 13 counties in Virginia alone.

That prompted this query from Olivia Gardner, who simply graduated from Riverheads Excessive Faculty in Augusta County to ask:

OLIVIA GARDNER: Since our college is so near Interstate 81, I typically marvel, what impact does Interstate 81 have on the environment within the valley?

ANDREW ALDEN: Nicely, primarily you’re taking a look at water high quality, air high quality, after which issues like nuisance points or high quality of life points like noise. And I’d say by far the largest influence that’s of concern is air high quality.

Andrew Alden is the Government Director of the Interstate 81 Hall Coalition. He says that the largest risk to the surroundings and the individuals residing across the interstate are the particulates which are emitted from automobiles, and the greater than 11 million tractor trailers that use the highway yearly. 

Particulates — or particulate matter — is the time period for a combination of strong particles and liquid droplets discovered within the air. In line with the Environmental Safety Company, they will get deep into your lungs and even into your bloodstream.

See also  What is the environmental impression of house particles and the way can we ... - World Economic Discussion board

Dr. Bruce Wiggins is an environmental biologist and professor within the biology division at James Madison College. He says that individuals residing round busy roadways can expertise coronary heart and lung illness, bronchial asthma, coughing and problem respiration.

BRUCE WIGGINS: It’s been proven that the extra of this particulate matter can get deep down into your lungs. The extra of that you simply breathe, there’s only a tendency for decreased life expectancy, you recognize, general. So that you simply have extra stress, extra more likely to die. So it’s not something that anybody is simply going to keel over and die from, it’s extra persistent high quality of life factor that everybody is affected.

And people particulates have an effect on all the surroundings.  They’ll injury farm crops and forests, trigger nutrient adjustments in rivers and different our bodies of water, they usually can have an effect on the range of ecosystems, based on the EPA.

ALDEN: Though automobiles are a lot cleaner than they was once, particularly vehicles — and later mannequin vehicles — are additionally a lot cleaner than they was once.  Diesel engines, and there are numerous them on Interstate 81 as a result of there’s numerous vehicles, they’ve an issue with small particulate pm-30 kind emissions that trigger issues. Significantly once they make their manner into individuals’s lungs. That’s actually the place the first environmental influence comes from.

And it doesn’t assist when there’s a main accident on the freeway. The I-81 Hall Enchancment Plan, launched by the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board in late 2018, reported that greater than 2,000 automobile crashes occurred yearly on the freeway.  The report famous that was the best proportion for any interstate in Virginia.  And when automobiles are caught within the delays brought on by all these accidents, the idling engines emit extra particulates — and people particulates turn out to be extra harmful.

See also  Rethink of Scottish tourism trade ordered to curb environmental influence

ALDEN: You understand, we’re suffering from crashes and incidents that happen throughout 81. The identical ones that get us all indignant once we attempt to journey are additionally actually dangerous for the surroundings, as a result of you may have numerous vehicles which are stopping and beginning, they don’t seem to be working very effectively at low speeds, and so in lots of circumstances this congestion that happens is a results of both crowding or crashes. That’s accountable for lots of air pollution too.

Jim Ponticello is the air and noise program supervisor for VDOT.  He says that whereas particulates, carbon monoxide and different air pollution brought on by vehicles and vehicles are all issues, Virginia and the nation have come a good distance in cleansing up emissions, and yearly air pollution charges go down in Virginia.

JIM PONTICELLO: You understand it’s vital for individuals to know that during the last 20 – 25 years, not solely have motorized vehicle and gas requirements turn out to be far more stringent, that means a brand new automobile right now is nicely over 90% cleaner than a brand new automobile bought twenty years in the past, however the EPA has applied far more stringent requirements on level sources, energy vegetation, trade, and there have been numerous native efforts and all this stuff mixed – federal, state, native – have actually contributed to a lot cleaner air high quality not solely in Virginia, however throughout the nation.

And after the Virginia Normal Meeting accredited funding to increase I-81 within the final legislative session, the query once more turns into how will the enlargement assist or damage the surroundings?

See also  We mustn't ignore the environmental influence of electrical automobiles 

It seems, there are numerous concepts going round for that as nicely.

Within the subsequent installment of My World, we’ll check out the way forward for Interstate 81, the professionals and cons for the surroundings of increasing the freeway, and a few intelligent concepts to make the interstate – and the well being of the individuals residing round it – higher.

About Olivia Gardner, who submitted the query about I-81:  Olivia, now a graduate of Riverheads Excessive Faculty in Augusta County, was a pupil in Courtney Hallacher’s Superior Environmental Science course in Spring 2019.  Olivia was president of the Environmental Science Membership at Riverheads.  She’s presently enrolled at Blue Ridge Group Faculty (in sight of the Interstate!) for the Fall, and hopes to switch to Virginia Tech to pursue her curiosity in plant science.

Courtney Hallacher teaches science programs together with superior environmental science, ecology and anatomy at Riverheads Excessive Faculty.

WMRA could be very grateful to Olivia and Courtney for serving to us launch this collection.  To submit YOUR query in regards to the surroundings, ship a message to WMRA Public Radio on Fb, or ship a tweet @WMRANews.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

36  +    =  40