Clean Air Hamilton in presenting its report on Hamilton air quality for 2019 sounded an optimistic note, writing, “Over the past year, we continued our work to make improvements to Hamilton’s air quality. We now enjoy cleaner air more than in the past, and 2019 Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks data show reduced concentrations of several monitored air pollutants across a number of the study locations. Reductions were seen in ozone (O3), inhalable particulate matter (PM10) and respirable particulate matter (PM2.5).
Nevertheless, there were occasional accidents such as demolitions in Hamilton in 2019 that resulted in a dense dust cloud that spread through north Hamilton, raising health concerns among local residents. Public Health’s toxicological analysis of the dust collected by the MECP concluded low risk for exposure or long-term concerns with health. As a result, the city’s Dust and Particulate Matter Committee, with active participation from industry has developed beneficial resources and guidance materials for construction and demolition projects that will be supplied with any city issued permits.
Clean Air Hamilton staged a number of public education events including Fresh Air For Kids. The program took place over a series of four visits and was delivered to Allan A. Greenleaf, Bennetto, and Strathcona Elementary Schools, and Our Lady of Peace Catholic Elementary
Schools. The program included classroom work, in-the–field air monitoring and anti-idling awareness, and reached 181 children.
Students were taught about the importance of air quality and about the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI).They also gained an awareness of how their actions can impact and improve the air in their neighbourhoods. Students were able to measure local PM2.5 and PM10. The MECP Mobile Air Monitoring van was also used to monitor air quality near the participating schools. This baseline data was developed into air quality maps which students used to decide the best route to travel to and from their school.
The Friendly Streets Program engaged volunteers to conduct street audits in 2018 including industrial truck counts over a total of eight days, across 12 hour periods. Count results ranged from 78 to 388 trucks per count with the highest frequency of trucks occurring at Queen St and York Blvd.
Trees Please! was a citizen science project that collects data with a team of volunteers trained to use specialized equipment. The project comprises a tree inventorying (measuring, identifying and noting any changes on trees) and collecting air quality data, specifically particulate matter levels. The goal of this project is to engage residents on local issues around air quality and urban forest health, by helping community members understand the importance of trees in air quality.