Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Highway Barriers Stifle Sound, Sight, and Soot

Date:
January 5, 2010
Source:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Summary:
Highway barriers erected along roadways to block the sound and sight of traffic for the adjoining neighborhoods may also be reducing the amount of pollutants, such as soot from diesel exhaust, reaching area residents.

Barrier and instruments NOAA scientists used in the highway study.
Credit: NOAA

Highway barriers erected along roadways to block the sound and sight of traffic for the adjoining neighborhoods may also be reducing the amount of pollutants, such as soot from diesel exhaust, reaching area residents.

In a study by NOAA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, researchers released harmless "tracers" -- gases that act as a stand-in for vehicle-related toxic pollutants such as carbon monoxide and heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds such as benzene -- so scientists can "trace" their movement through the air.

The study, the first to systematically and comprehensively investigate the role of atmospheric stability in real world conditions on the movement of pollutants near highway barriers, is now online and will appear in a January 2010 print edition of Atmospheric Environment.

"While the barriers block the noise and view of hundreds of vehicles whizzing by, we found that they also reduce high concentrations of pollutants from those vehicles by lifting and channeling them away from the adjoining areas, often a residential area," said Dennis Finn, lead author and a research meteorologist at NOAA's Air Resources Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

A large body of research shows a variety of human health effects such as respiratory disease, cardiovascular illness, and cancer in individuals living or working near heavily trafficked roadways. It is difficult to measure accurately and isolate the effect of highway barriers on the transport and dispersion of the pollutants that cause these health effects in real-world environments with a wide range of atmospheric conditions.

Researchers were able to conduct tracer studies in unstable, neutral and stable atmospheric conditions in tightly controlled circumstances, to quantify the effects of roadside barriers on pollutant dispersion. Atmospheric stability is a measure of top-to-bottom mixing in the atmosphere. The atmosphere is stable when the coldest air is at ground level. When there is no significant difference between temperatures in the top and bottom layers, conditions are neutral. Like a pan of boiling water, an unstable atmosphere roils as warm air rises from ground level.

"We also found that the barriers tended to trap pollutants in the area of the roadway itself, especially at night in low wind speed conditions," Finn said. "The amount of pollutants was much higher on roadway areas flanked by barriers than in areas without them."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Highway Barriers Stifle Sound, Sight, and Soot." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100104134643.htm>.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (2010, January 5). Highway Barriers Stifle Sound, Sight, and Soot. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100104134643.htm
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "Highway Barriers Stifle Sound, Sight, and Soot." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100104134643.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Could Cost Billions According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jane Goodall Warns Great Apes Face Extinction

Jane Goodall Warns Great Apes Face Extinction

AFP (July 29, 2014) The world's great apes face extinction within decades, renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall warned Tuesday in a call to arms to ensure man's closest relatives are not wiped out. Duration: 00:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins