Since our primary business is cleaning and purifying the air we breathe, we at Austin Air attempt to be a source of all-things-healthy, and as such we try to bring you engaging and important content to enrich your life and to share with your friends. We tend to focus on scientific studies and stories in the news regarding air pollution, which clearly has broad consequences on the health of our community. However, we know you’re constantly bombarded with negative news so for today’s post we thought we’d interject some positivity into your day and take a look at some local clean air advocates and initiatives trying to make a difference in the Buffalo area.

Activists and scientists have been studying the air quality in the areas around the Peace Bridge for decades. For those of you who aren’t in the Western New York area, the Peace Bridge is one of the leading border crossings between the United States and Canada in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area. As of autumn 2014, the Peace Bridge Authority has completed the widening of the approach lanes to the inspection booths, making it easier for vehicles which use the frequent-crossing program NEXUS.

According to the Peace Bridge Authority’s Renovation Fact Sheet, the huge project included the addition of 215,000 sq ft for vehicles heading toward the US. This structure was also designed to improve NEXUS lane access for travelers with that trusted status. Additional space for queuing was also included. Another goal of the widening effort was to help move commercial vehicles off the bridge itself more quickly. This wasn’t simply an effort to save time; it will lengthen the time before bedecking is necessary. Perhaps most importantly – it will help reduce air pollution in the vicinity of the bridge. “When you eliminate congestion points you eliminate the idling cars and trucks that are associated with traffic back ups and you improve the air quality,” said Peace Bridge Authority Chairman, Sam Hoyt.

Canadian authorities also decided to make some changes to help reduce idling vehicles and traveler wait times on the bridge, especially those traveling back into Canada after attending professional sporting events hosted by the Buffalo Bills or Sabres. This has been a long-standing issue of contention between both sides of the boarder, as American officials have often blamed traffic on the Canadian side of the bridge on an insufficient number of booths being open to cope with surges in traffic after popular events in Buffalo. Ron Rienas recently made a statement that having every inspection lane open before, during, and after a Bills game made a “tremendous positive difference.” The added staffing is expected to continue into 2015.

We’d like to thank many of the clean air activists, scientific researchers, environmental watchdogs (like the Clean Air Coalition of WNY), EPA officials, and legislative leaders for their efforts to help air quality and set some of the changes that are needed in motion. In 2007, the EPA released new regulations to ensure cleaner emissions from diesel engines. In addition to improvements made to the width of the of plaza approach, engineers for the Peace Bridge widening project have decided to use a smog-eating cement, which works with sunlight to break down harmful pollutants ultimately enabling them to be washed away. The compound used is called a photocatalyst, and can be incorporated into mortar, paint, plaster and, as in the case of the Peace Bridge reconstruction project, even roads! This is an exciting scientific breakthrough for the Buffalo region, as well as the entire world.
Studies have shown that asthma occurrences on Buffalo’s West Side are four times higher than the national average! It is our hope that these efforts will help reduce that figure. We salute those who fight the good fight for clean air and helping to protect our neighborhoods and communities from problematic air pollution. Change takes time but it is worth fighting for. While you may not ability to instantly control the air quality in your city or neighborhood, you can take control of the air quality in your home or office with one of our Austin Air purifiers.