Diesel engine trucks at Ottawa convoy emitting fumes, impacting air quality
Posted February 18, 2022 2:25 pm.
Last Updated February 18, 2022 2:26 pm.
The so-called “freedom convoy” has had large diesel engine trucks emitting fumes in downtown Ottawa for the last 22 days, and one air pollution expert suggests anyone within two kilometres of the convoy is likely breathing in higher levels of harmful emissions as a result.
The combination of the winter weather and the amount of carbon emissions rising in the air impacts the air quality, according to University of Toronto professor Jeffrey Brook.
“Everyone within a half a kilometre is breathing elevated pollution levels. Now, it’s also likely that given the way pollution moves in the wintertime … and that when it’s even colder, sometimes at night and the air is really light, that these emissions can build up even more and probably spread easily three times as far as that half kilometre buffer,” he explains and adds the diesel exhaust follows the wind which makes it spread further away.
While these convoys won’t be parked in the nation’s capital forever, Brook says that diesel emissions are hazardous in the short term.
“These are known to trigger respiratory distress, and people with conditions like asthma and COPD, and a short term peak can even trigger heart attacks.”
He admits that such a condensed area is terrible for the environment, but Brook adds he feels frustrated that people might be distracted by the convoys impacts to the environment — which is temporary. Instead, arguing there are more climate concerns with Canada’s reliance on the trucking industry.
“Just a shame that we continue to get distracted by this sort of thing. There’s lots of motives behind why these convoys have formed … and some of it’s probably that they’re seeing they’re being threatened over the long term in terms of their industry because of environmental concerns,” he said.
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) February 17, 2022
“We know we need to start thinking about other ways to move our goods around. We can’t have trucks forever if you want to really meet our climate change goals. These are the exact same sort of people who need to benefit from the government, and coming up with ways to help them find other employment that’s going to be in line with our climate goals.”
These convoys have served as a reminder of the everyday pollution contributors Canadians accept, Brook says.
“This is an opportunity for us to realize that this is very visible, but there is invisible hotspots of collections of diesel trucks supporting construction, or generators supporting various activities that we’re exposed to, and we tend to not be aware of it. The trucks I would argue, became more noticeable from the noise to begin with. And the noise got our attention and irritated us. And probably that was, first and foremost, before people started thinking, ‘hey, wait a minute, what about this invisible plume of air pollution?’ It’s also here.”
“These invisible plumes of pollution are around us all the time, and they’re one of our greater challenges now and dealing with cleaning up the air.”