Improving Air Quality and Health | Bay Area Air Quality Management

Improving Air Quality and the Health of a Large U.S. City

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District

Improving Community Health through Detailed Emissions Modeling

Citilabs determined where freeways and heavy industries are causing the worst levels of air pollution in West Oakland, California, United States by performing a road analysis.

Key Project Details

  • Project: Improving Community Health through Detailed Emissions Modeling
  • Infrastructure Delivered: Analysis of roadway carbon emissions
  • Owner: Bay Area Air Quality Management District
  • Lead Engineers: Citilabs
  • Completion Date: 2017
San Francisco Bay bridge and city

By undertaking a sweeping analysis of the roadways in West Oakland, they determined the full environmental impact of emissions, tire wear, and road dust. Citilabs identified the block-by-block areas most impacted by pollution, helping the Bay Area Air Quality District develop targeted solutions for reducing exposure.

Addressing Air Pollution to Improve Health

West Oakland has some of the worst air quality in the state of California due to emissions from nearby freeways and heavy industries, with the Environmental Defense Fund discovering some areas experience as much as one microgram of black carbon per cubic meter. The pollution leads to West Oakland’s high rates of asthma, cancer, heart disease, and strokes, according to the California Department of Public Health. When the state legislature mandated a reduction in air pollution exposure in 2017, they chose West Oakland as the first community to be targeted. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District had to find a way to reduce emissions and improve community health.

Pinpointing the Exact Sources of Emissions

The Air District, in partnership with community stakeholders including environmental justice advocates and industry representatives, understood that they needed to determine where the sources of emissions were coming from before they could control them. Although the busy roads and highways were one of the likeliest sources of air pollution in West Oakland, the Air District wanted to undertake a bottom-up inventory of emissions that could account for variations in emissions from block to block. As a result, they needed a platform that could provide detailed and intuitive data on the roadway network, as well as link vehicle counts and movements.

Creating a Block-by-block Pollution Analysis

After examining several options, the Air District determined Streetlytics was the only solution that could provide the detailed roadway telematics needed for the emission inventory and modeling analysis. The analysis allowed them to measure average vehicle counts by season, day of the week, and hour of the day along each roadway segment, and could track number of road lanes, road length, travel restrictions, truck routes, and roadway surface types. The Air District combined the road details, including imagery from Google Earth, with air quality data to produce a detailed emissions inventory that included running exhaust, running loss, tire wear, brake wear, and resuspended road dust along each roadway link in West Oakland.

Determining the Best Ways to Lower Cancer Risk

By combining the data, the Air District produced a comprehensive air pollution exposure map that identified the specific areas most affected by air pollution, with the neighborhoods of Third Street, West Prescott, and Seventh Street at the highest exposure. The analysis will help officials to develop targeted solutions for reducing exposure, with a goal of lowering cancer risk from up to 346 people per million to 110 people per million by 2030. Additionally, the Air District Plans to expand the roadway emissions analysis to include the complete nine-county San Francisco Bay area.

The Impact

Sustainable Development Goals 3,11

Contributing to sustainable and resilient infrastructure, and to progress on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals:

  • Improve air quality in West Oakland by reducing emissions from highways and industries.
  • Significantly lower cancer risks from up to 346 people per million to 110 people per million by 2030.

"Without the [Streetlytics] roadway telematics data, the block-by-block contribution from trucks would be the same across all areas. Streetlytics data played a vital role in helping us develop the detailed roadway emissions inventory.”

Virginia Lau, Advanced Project Advisor, Bay Area Air Quality Management District