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The Bicycle Air Monitoring (BAM) Program allows cyclists, the community, and Environment Hamilton to learn more about the air quality in Hamilton by attaching a mobile air monitor and Global Positioning System (GPS) to the handlebars of their bike.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has 40 official stations distributed across Ontario - 3 in Hamilton (Beasley Park, Sackville Hill Memorial Park, & the Hwy 403 entrance off Main St. W.). These stations collect important data and provide live air quality reports and daily forecasts.
However, with a land area of over 276,000 acres, the City of Hamilton is far too large and complex for these three stations to capture the full spatial/temporal air quality variations, and they completely miss some of the more critical zones such as high traffic areas and the residential zones near the industrial core.
That's where the Bicycle Air Monitoring (BAM!) program comes in.
By equipping these two devices to your bike, fine particulate matter can be tracked as you pedal across the city. This will allow for the creation of an online map which will highlight when and where particulate matter – inhalable (PM10) and respirable (PM2.5) – is the highest. This information will allow for a more comprehensive map of Hamilton's air quality and will allow Environment Hamilton to investigate spatial/temporal patterns that may be influencing the health of Hamiltonians.
Particulate matter is fine dust composed of liquid and/or solid particles that are emitted from smokestacks, vehicle exhaust, or from other chemical and/or physical reactions. Some PM can remain in the air for day to week as a result of wind stirring up dust into the air. These fine particles can be inhaled and coughed up or lodged deeper into the lungs. For more information on particulate matter, please navigate here. For more information on the health impacts, please navigate here.
The project is being modelled closely after the Pittsburgh-based Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP) who have developed an interactive map of particulate matter and who have dedicated their time and experience to helping set up the BAM Program with Environment Hamilton.
In 2012, a study conducted by SENES Consultants Limited in collaboration with Clean Air Hamilton and Hamilton Public Health found that "annual deaths due to PM10 and PM2.5 are both between 25 and 40" in Hamilton meaning that up to 80 people pass away each year from avoidable pollution due to PM alone. PM10 and PM2.5 has been linked to a number of respiratory, cardiovascular, and other health impacts causing an increase in hospital visits as well, adding further stress to citizen well-being and to the health-care system.
Although bicycle air monitoring is a fairly new program for Hamilton (and Canada!), vehicular mobile air monitoring in Hamilton has been taking place since 2004 to better understand neighbourhood-level air quality. The first mobile air monitoring study consisted of a partnership between Clean Air Hamilton, the Ministry of the Environment, Environment Canada, Rotek Environmental, and the City of Hamilton who funded the study. The results of this first study can be found here. Between 2010 and 2011, through the efforts of these same organizations and Green Venture, mobile air monitoring was conducted in several neighbourhoods across the city. The results can be found here.
In addition to GASP, Environment Hamilton would also like to extend a huge ‘thank you!’ to Councilor Chad Collins of Ward 5 for funding the equipment and Hamilton Public Health for their assitance with the pilot project operating expenses.
Whether you are cycling on your daily commute, a recreational trail, or just looking to explore the city, we need your help!
Join the BAM Team today by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org!