Hot Asphalt May Increase Air Pollution in Urban Areas

Research shows that road asphalt exposed to heat and sunlight may eventually become a significant emissions source.

September 21, 2020, 9:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink


Asphalt Road

Washington State Dept of Transportation / Flickr

A new study reports that asphalt emits significant amounts of pollutants in hot conditions. "[Researchers] observed that asphalt emissions doubled when the temperature increased from 40C to 60C — levels the material often reaches in summer," reports Rhi Storer.

When road asphalt was exposed to both solar radiation and heat, to mimic outdoor summer conditions, the researchers found a 300 percent increase in emissions. The release of secondary organic aerosols has been shown to have public health impacts, notes Storer.

While most traffic-related pollution comes from vehicle sources, the impact of cars and trucks may decrease as gross polluters are phased out. As a result, asphalt emissions may contribute more to air pollution as urban areas grow—45 percent of the surface area in the United States is paved—and temperatures rise due to climate change.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020 in The Guardian

Stylized rendering of the Midwest Regional Rail Network

Federal Railroad Administration Proposes New Midwest Rail Network

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A silhouette of construction workers lowering larger numerals into place to form 2022.

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Rendering of the proposed Farm Hub at The Great Park, Ontario

Massive New Park Coming to the Inland Empire

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January 11, 2022 - Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Glenn Youngkin gesturing with his hands while speaking to the media and the public while campaigning for governor of Virginia at the Alexandria Farmers Market.

New GOP Governor's Anti-Climate Agenda Takes Shape in Virginia

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January 21 - The Virginia Mercury

Houston Sprawl

Houston Area's Center of Gravity Shifts Outside the Loop

The population center of Harris County is now outside central Houston, a shift that occurred over the last two decades as the region's suburbs blossomed.

January 21 - Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

ITE Quickbites: New Transportation and Health Resources

Transportation planning decisions affect our lives in many ways. New Quick Bites (short reports) published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers can help create healthier and happier communities.

January 21 - ITE Transportation and Health Resources

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Case Study posted on HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

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This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

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