The principle goal of the Atlanta Roadside Emissions Exposure Study (AREES) is to understand how local-scale air quality is impacted by changes to the transportation system. AREES focuses on exposure to pollution at a human scale. Until the development of AREES, ARC only looked at regional pollution totals from the transportation system as required by transportation conformity regulations; now ARC staff has the ability to evaluate air pollution at a very fine neighborhood level resolution.
With this new tool, decision makers, planners and residents can make better-informed decisions about how transportation projects impact air quality in their communities. AREES can also help inform the siting of sensitive community assets. Places where people spend a lot of time outdoors, like school playgrounds, parks and trails should be planned in a way that minimizes exposure to traffic pollution.
The methodology used to develop AREES is replicable in other regions with the ability to model transportation and emissions. ARC management thought it was important to help disseminate the AREES methodology. The information provided in the supporting documentation explains the modeling process.
An interactive map of AREES results for the 20-county Atlanta/ Gainesville/ Cartersville area can be found here. The map illustrates particulate matter (PM) concentrations throughout the region resulting from the transportation system. Transportation is just one source of PM and the numbers modeled do not represent the total concentration of PM at any one location. The map is zoomable and highlights the location of schools and hospitals as sensitive land uses to air quality exposure.
The Atlanta Region's Plan & Future Work
The AREES project supports the vision of the Atlanta Region's Plan Policy Framework. Applying the results of the tool can help mitigate the impacts of impaired air quality on residents of the region. The results from AREES were used by ARC as an air quality performance measure in transportation project evaluation, scenario planning and decision-making for the Atlanta Region's Plan. Technical documentation for the plan outlines the exact methodology.
Future work to compare census, public health and land-use data with AREES outputs will allow ARC staff to evaluate a variety of additional topics such as: health risks among vulnerable populations and environmental justice.