Since the opening of the Westfield shopping centre expansion, Doncaster residents have complained of black soot in their homes – a direct result of the increased traffic pollution.

Exhaust Plume Click to Enlarge

Exhaust Plume
Click to Enlarge

Due to our poor public transport system, Manningham’s residents are strongly dependent upon car usage. Our reliance on cars, buses and trucks (petrol and diesel)  as the only mode of transportation has had a detrimental impact on air quality and public health, with the significant release of high levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, benzene and the dangerous particle matter pollution. It seems that the more we learn about pollution, the more we realize how much of it we’ve been living with. So-called soot pollution is a good example of this as up until eight years ago we didn’t even have any regulations regarding its ambitions. Fortunately, we are now learning (thanks in part to the EPA) how damaging

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge


it has been to human health from the soot  (particle matter) emitted by trucks, buses and cars. The size of these tiny particles are directly linked to the trouble they cause. Particles smaller than a speck of dust and less than 1/30 the width of a human hair that can easily pass through the nose and throat, penetrate and embed in the lungs and enter the bloodstream. The smallest of particles cause the largest amount of damage because they can penetrate furthermost into the lungs and in some cases can react with DNA. The particle matter, or PM, as it is often called can be so small that it can only  be detected by an electronic microscope. These particles enter our lungs without our ever knowing it.


Health issues at 460 M Click to Enlarge

Health issues up to 500 meters
Click to Enlarge

How will our city handle the growth? What are the implications for traffic, air pollution and our health? Recent science suggests there is an up to 500 m risk zone from air pollution around heavily used roadways. Within this risk zone, vehicle emissions are concentrated at levels higher than background concentrations, and the risks of various diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and respiratory ailments, can increase. The traffic pollutants especially relevant to health include particulate matter (soot), volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides (precursors to smog)

Health Near Heavy Traffic Click to enlarge

Health Near Heavy Traffic
Click to enlarge

Soot and nitrogen oxide from car, bus and truck exhaust are most concentrated within 100 to 300 meters though vehicle emissions can travel up to 500 meters. Stop-and-go driving in traffic gridlock, whether it’s on local roads or the freeway it will generate as much as three times the pollution of free-flowing traffic.

US studies reveal that children are especially vulnerable to the effects of traffic-related air pollution; studies show increased prevalence of asthma, respiratory symptoms  and stunted lung development.

Trucks, Cars & Buses Click to Enlarge

Trucks, Cars & Buses
Click to Enlarge

A key study from 2005 found that the risk of asthma increased 89% for each quarter-mile closer children lived to a major roadway; the follow-up 2007 study found decreased lung air flow function for children living within about 1500 feet of a major roadway.


“Environment and Human Health, Inc., founded in 1997, is a nonprofit organization in US made up of doctors, public health professionals and policy experts dedicated to the purpose of protecting public health from environmental harms through research, education and the promotion of sound public policy. We are committed to improving public health and to the reduction of environmental health risks to individuals”.    (click on link below)

exhaust06 EHHI


  1. Snowstream says:

    I could never understand why Doncaster Hill was chosen as an area for a principal activity centre in the first place. It is not in a railway corridor and the restricted street layout would never be suitable for the efficient dispersion of traffic generated by the Doncaster Hill high density development plan. Air pollution could be reduced if we had electric powered transport like a tram or train. But unfortunately neither will be introduced because the faceless bureaucrats of state planning have already decided that diesel powered buses will be our lot and our council executives will not support a tram service because they could not obtain government funding. However, they will continue to conduct rail and tram studies from time to time if only to provide a false hope to pacify the community.

  2. East of Whittens says:

    My concern is for the health of the children of the primary school located in the danger zone, just 50 meters from Doncaster Road. The school also fronts Council Street which will have long queues of cars and trucks entering and exiting large developments from the north, including the giant Bunning’s store opposite, when they are completed. Fine particulate matter is a serious threat to human health and is responsible for several tens of thousands of premature deaths in the US. Children are particularly sensitive to it.

  3. Robbo says:

    Air quality will be a problem particularly for those living on the main roads. The Doncaster Hill strategy is only half built and there is still 1000 homes to be built on the golf course estate. Already both Doncaster and Williamsons Roads are approaching capacity. Our narrow side streets, which go nowhere, once part of housing estates sold during the sixties, were designed to accommodate single detached dwellings and were never intended to disperse the heavy traffic generated by high rise apartment buildings. This is demonstrated by the fact that the title to my daughter’s home, one of 90 properties on the Glen Towers estate, less than 150 meters south from the centre of Doncaster Hill strategy, is encumbered with a restrictive covenant which limits any development on her land to a single dwelling.

    1. David says:

      Williamsons Road is fast becoming a traffic sewer through the centre of Doncaster Hill with the majority of its traffic having no association whatsoever. It is currently being used as a connection to the eastern freeway and on to Box Hill etc. Our planning division has admitted the road would reach gridlock whether or not we had a rail service. Unfortunately there are no plans to divert traffic around Doncaster Hill. A new bypass road had been considered but it was abandoned due to the haphazard nature of our road network.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *