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Influence of Regional Development Policies and Clean Technology Adoption on Future Air Pollution Exposure


Journal Article

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Suggested Citation:
Hixson, Mark, Abdullah Mahmud, Jianlin Hu, Song Bai, Debbie A. Niemeier, Susan L. Handy, Shengyi Gao, Jay R. Lund, Dana Coe Sullivan, Michael J. Kleeman (2010) Influence of Regional Development Policies and Clean Technology Adoption on Future Air Pollution Exposure. Atmospheric Environment 44 (4), 552 - 562

Future air pollution emissions in the year 2030 were estimated for the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) in central California using a combined system of land use, mobile, off-road, stationary, area, and biogenic emissions models. Four scenarios were developed that use different assumptions about the density of development and level of investment in transportation infrastructure to accommodate the expected doubling of the SJV population in the next 20 years. Scenario 1 reflects current land-use patterns and infrastructure while scenario 2 encouraged compact urban footprints including redevelopment of existing urban centers and investments in transit. Scenario 3 allowed sprawling development in the SJV with reduced population density in existing urban centers and construction of all planned freeways. Scenario 4 followed currently adopted land use and transportation plans for the SJV. The air quality resulting from these urban development scenarios was evaluated using meteorology from a winter stagnation event that occurred on December 15, 2000 to January 7, 2001. Predicted base-case PM2.5 mass concentrations within the region exceeded 35 μg m-3 over the 22-day episode. Compact growth reduced the PM2.5 concentrations by approx. 1 µg m-3 relative to the base-case over most of the SJV with the exception of increases (approx. 1 µg m-3) in urban centers driven by increased concentrations of elemental carbon (EC) and organic carbon (OC). Low-density development increased the PM2.5 concentrations by 1-4 µg m-3 over most of the region, with decreases (0.5-2 µg m-3) around urban areas. Population-weighted average PM2.5 concentrations were very similar for all development scenarios ranging between 16 and 17.4 µg m-3. Exposure to primary PM components such as EC and OC increased 10-15% for high density development scenarios and decreased by 11-19% for low-density scenarios. Patterns for secondary PM components such as nitrate and ammonium ion were almost exactly reversed, with a 10% increase under low-density development and a 5% decrease under high density development. The increased human exposure to primary pollutants such as EC and OC could be predicted using a simplified analysis of population-weighted primary emissions. Regional planning agencies should develop thresholds of population-weighted primary emissions exposure to guide the development of growth plans. This metric will allow them to actively reduce the potential negative impacts of compact growth while preserving the benefits.