Clearing the Air: One New England Community’s Efforts to Improve Local Air Quality

Authors: Tim Garceau*, Central Connecticut State University
Topics: Environment, Physical Geography, Transportation Geography
Keywords: Sustainability, Air Quality, Inversions, Transportation
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Keene is a small city (pop. 23,409) in southwest New Hampshire that is situated in a glacial river valley surrounded by high hills. As a result of the climate and topography, Keene is prone to inversion events on cold, calm winter nights. During these inversions, PM2.5 levels frequently exceeded national standards. Keene does not have any major smokestack industries or mining operations; instead, the two major sources of particulate matter are automobile emissions and residential woodstoves. To specifically address winter air quality issues, Keene enacted a woodstove changeout program in 2009-2010 to incentivize the removal and replacement of outdated, inefficient woodstoves. To address traffic congestion and safety issues, Keene converted from traffic signalized-design (operating at level of service “F”) with long delays to modern roundabouts at two of its largest and busiest intersections. The roundabouts were constructed in 2007. Since that time, delays have been reduced and, as such, idling and associated particulate matter pollution have both been reduced as well. This research utilizes PM2.5 data to assess how the city’s major efforts to improve traffic circulation and to take outdated woodstoves off-line has combined to improve air quality for people living and working in the bustling community.

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