Toronto, Ontario Clean Roads to Clean Air Program

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Toronto, Canada

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Type: Program

Status: Launched in 2003

Source File:


Clean Roads to Clean Air Program
In 2003, the Clean Roads to Clean Air Program (CRCA) was initiated by Transportation Services’ Operational Planning and Policy Unit and Toronto Environment Office’ Air Quality Improvements Branch and through a number of air quality studies and tests, a standard process, along with efficiency criteria, were developed and used to evaluate various street sweeper technologies. Specifically, the technologies were evaluated on their efficiency in removing fine particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5 – both considered toxic substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act) from roads, the concentration levels of fine particulate matter entrained into the air while sweeping, and their ability to operate year-round effectively, including during winter periods, and under various sweeping conditions typically encountered in Toronto.

The CRCA Program defined a process that made it possible to obtain quantitative results of a street sweeper’s operational and PM efficiency and provided the justification for the City to proceed with the acquisition of 25 new regenerative-air street sweepers. These new sweepers are capable of removing a significant amount of fine particulate matter from the City of Toronto’s paved roads year-round.

Testing protocols were developed, along with efficiency criteria to evaluate the operational and particulate matter removal efficiency of various street sweeper technologies. The evaluation process has provided a framework for continuous development of new operational practices and procedures, ensuring that the City’s street sweeping service is delivered in a safe, environmentally sustainable, efficient and effective manner.

The new sweepers will contribute to a reduction in airborne fine particulate matter, at street level, by at least 21%. Fine particulate matter is one of the two most significant “criteria air contaminants” in Toronto. An improvement in air quality will be beneficial to the general health of City’s residents, workers and visitors, and will significantly reduce the number of cases of acute and chronic exposure to fine particulates. An additional benefit in removing toxic loads from the streets is that most of the particulate matter that was washed down into catch-basins and the storm sewer system will be significantly reduced. This will result in improved stormwater quality and a reduction in the cost of stormwater treatment. Furthermore, the replacement of the less efficient and ageing fleet of mechanical street sweepers with new regenerative-air types will reduce maintenance costs and improve the level of street sweeping service across the City.

A number of divisions were consulted throughout the process including: Fleet Services, Public Health Services, Legal Services, Toronto Water and the Purchasing and Material Management Division.