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NOACA HOLDS REGULARLY SCHEDULED BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING ON FACEBOOK LIVE STREAMING MARCH 13, 2020

Cleveland, OH (March 12, 2020)— The regularly scheduled Board of Directors Meeting at the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) will still take place at the organization’s offices but through Facebook Live streaming due to the situation surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19).   The meeting will be Live at 9:00 a.m. on the @NOACA Facebook page.  In person participation will not permitted.  However, the public can make comments during the meeting on the Facebook platform.  The Live stream will be available approximately 10 minutes prior to the meeting.

In concert with our local and state elected officials, NOACA is keeping a close eye on the developing situation surrounding the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) by limiting social interactions. Our number one goal is the safety and well-being of our residents, visitors and communities throughout Northeast Ohio. 

We are committed to keeping you informed of any changes to all of our scheduled meetings. Please visit our website at www.noaca.org for more updates.

Discover Air Quality's Total Impact During National Public Health Week

Post Date:04/06/2020 7:30 AM

The American Public Health Association (APHA) has named the first full week of April (April 6-12) as National Public Health Week (NPHW).  National Public Health Week recognizes the contributions of public health organizations and highlights issues that are important to improve our nation’s health. This week also raises awareness about some of the underlying causes of poor health and risk.  The American Public Health Association develops a national campaign each year to educate the public, policymakers, and practitioners about issues related to each year’s theme. Each of the themes identified in this year’s NPHW are connected to the quality of the air we breathe.

The impacts of poor health – and the effects they have – can be seen in countless ways. It’s the child who misses school and can’t take full advantage of the education that leads to a healthier, more productive adulthood.  It’s the low-wage worker who loses much needed income because they lack transportation options.  It’s the family that struggles to find access to much needed healthcare.  These are the types of conditions that shape the health and well-being of our people and communities. 

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) is the transportation and environmental planning agency that represents state, county, city, village, and township officials in Greater Cleveland. NOACA addresses the transportation, air quality, and water quality needs of Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, and Medina counties. The agency and its partners cooperatively develop and implement plans to ensure that travel throughout the region is safe, cost-effective, and environmentally sound.

Monday, April 6: Mental Health

anxietyAccording to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five Americans experiences some form of mental illness. The impact extends beyond the individual to touch families, communities, and society. Air pollution is linked to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Mobile emissions continue to make up the majority (58%) of air pollution emissions in the NOACA region and account for an even larger share (69%) in Cuyahoga County.  Active transportation, like walking and biking, can lower your stress, which may benefit mental health. In fact, one study found that people who ride their bikes to work reported being happier than any other commuters.

Access to care can be an issue for those people who experience mental illness. Community stakeholders, like NOACA, play an important role in the ability of mentally ill individuals to overcome transportation barriers to care. Gohio Commute offers ride-sharing services and helps residents navigate transit services, which can better connect the mentally ill to medical and supportive services.

Tuesday, April 7: Maternal and Child Health

pregnant coupleThe United States has the highest national spending on health care yet ranks low among its peers for maternal and infant mortality, two indicators for the health of a country. Nearly one-third (31%) of women who will become pregnant and give birth in the U.S. will face pregnancy complications. Air pollution is connected to a host of health issues, including pre- and neonatal health risks (including low birthweight, premature birth, and infant mortality). A 2018 World Health Organization (WHO) report on air pollution and child health reveals that when pregnant women are exposed to polluted air, they are more likely to give birth prematurely, and have small, low birthweight children. Air pollution also impacts neurological development and cognitive ability and can trigger asthma and childhood cancer. Children who have been exposed to high levels of air pollution may be at greater risk for chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, later in life. One reason why children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of air pollution is that they breathe more rapidly than adults and thus absorb more pollutants. They also live closer to the ground, where some pollutants reach peak concentrations – at a time when their brains are still in development.

A 2009 study found that the introduction of EZ Pass in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which reduced congestion around tollbooths, lowered prematurity rates. Rates fell by 6.7-9.2% among mothers who lived near the tollbooths. Low birthweight rates among these same mothers fell by 8.5-11.3%.

Wednesday, April 8: Violence Prevention

Disinvestment in communities and neighborhoods mean individuals who live in those areas are more likely to experience violence, including abuse or neglect. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), community risk factors include high rates of poverty, residential instability, unemployment and a high concentration of places to buy alcohol. The APHA cites community development as an effective way to interrupt the cycles of poverty through meeting basic community needs, making a good education available to everyone and investing in communities to improve residents’ financial security.

Community investment through improved transportation infrastructure (safer walking, biking and transit environments) and promotion of such alternative transportation modes can simultaneously reduce violence through the neighborhood’s socio-economic improvement (increased and safer accessibility to work and school) and air pollution reduction from lower mobile emissions. Ambient air pollution has been shown to affect the function of the central nervous system. Pollutants can directly affect brain chemistry. Ozone, for example, is a highly reactive substance that reacts with molecules in the body to create toxins. The pollutant may also trigger an inflammatory response in the central nervous system. A number of studies have been done that link neuro-inflammation to increased aggression, impulsivity, and depression.

Thursday, April 9: Environmental Health

The air we breathe affects our health. Exposure to air pollution worsens serious respiratory conditions such as asthma. Climate change, which is already seriously affecting people’s health and well-being, degrades air quality. Climate change also disproportionately affects already-vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, young children, people living in poverty, and people with chronic diseases. The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program supports two important goals of the U.S. Department of Transportation: improving air quality and relieving congestion. The CMAQ program funds transportation projects or programs that contribute to attainment or maintenance of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). These projects and programs help improve air quality and make progress towards achieving attainment status and ensuring compliance with the transportation conformity provisions of the Clean Air Act. In 2019 alone, CMAQ projects in the NOACA region collectively saved 15.5 tons of NOx, per year, 17.4 tons VOC per year, and more than one ton of PM2.5 per year.

On December 7, 2009, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) ruled that Greenhouse Gases (GHGs), like CO2, exacerbate air pollution and threaten human health and welfare. Research demonstrates that taking steps to mitigate GHG emissions can help improve air quality and public health. To further environmental health, NOACA offers Gohio Commute, an alternative transportation platform. This platform provides information needed to make smart choices – to save money, improve health, and improve air quality. Promoting active transportation, like walking and biking, also decreases the amount of cars on the road. Every car taken off the road helps to improve our air quality, even just a little bit. Every mile that you choose to walk or bike instead of drive keeps a pound of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Since its introduction in April 2017, users of Gohio Commute have accounted for a reduction of nearly 247 tons of CO2.

Friday, April 10: Education

waiting-for-school-to-startA lack of education is one of the social determinants of poor health. Schoolpool is a way families can connect to get their children to and from school. Options include carpooling, walk pools (“walking school buses”), bike pools (“bike trains”), or school bus buddies.. Schoolpool supports traffic mitigation and transportation planning efforts in and around schools, and complements Safe Routes to School (SRTS) and other student transportation safety, as well as other air quality programs.

In addition to transportation safety benefits, SRTS programs, like Schoolpool, increase physical activity opportunities. Increased physical activity helps students succeed by improving cognitive learning and behavior. Programs like Schoolpool help kids reach school safely, on-time, and ready to learn, reducing tardiness and increasing attendance.

Saturday, April 11: Healthy Housing

Our health, longevity, and well-being are connected to our communities.  Where people live impacts their health and life expectancy. Transit oriented development (TOD) promotes a mixture of housing, retail, services, workplaces, and open space within walking distance of transit to maximize the use of the transit system. Pedestrian- and bike-friendly TOD has numerous public benefits including decreased congestion, fewer emissions and improved public health by creating walkable neighborhoods that promote physical activity. Research shows that well-maintained sidewalks encourage physical activity, and safe biking networks lead to more cycling and few injuries among bicyclists. Biking to work keeps you healthier and can cut your risk of developing heart disease in half.  

NOACA advances TOD as a regional advocate; through technical assistance and planning support to localities that wish to embrace TOD; and by way of public investment and development finance incentives toward specific opportunities. The West Blvd.-Cudell Rapid Station, East 116th Rapid Station, and the Broadway/Slavic Village Bus Corridor Pilot Site Implementation Plans demonstrate the assistance NOACA provides to communities. Ohio City/W. 25th Street, Little Italy, and the Van Aken District are a few of the local TOD examples in action. 

Sunday, April 12: Economics

Businesses, organizations, and communities can advocate for increased access to job training and opportunities. Employers can help create supportive work environments that provide flexible scheduling and encourage smart commuting. 

In partnership with the six other largest Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in Ohio, NOACA manages Gohio Commute, a multi-regional transportation demand management (TDM) platform. Gohio Commute launched in April 2017 for the NOACA region (Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, and Medina Counties), with connectivity throughout Ohio. NOACA has worked to engage businesses, local governments, colleges, and other organizations to create their own subsites through the platform. These subsites enable organizations to offer their employees (or students) targeted incentives to choose healthier, more efficient modes of transportation. 

Programs like Gohio Commute offer many benefits to employers and employees such as enhanced employee recruitment and retention, reduced localized transportation problems, and lower absenteeism and tardiness. A shrinking labor force has increased competition for qualified applicants. Similarly, the price to replace an employee in productivity and direct costs can be quite high. Employee benefits like carpool matching, vanpool services, and transit passes create a more desirable workplace. It also allows companies to recruit from a larger geographic area because of reduced travel costs (money and stress) for commuting employees. Employees may make earlier time commitments to their carpool/vanpool partners or to meet the bus, which helps lower absenteeism and tardiness. 

Smart commuting also saves users money. Since the platform launched in April 2017, Gohio Commute users have saved more than $286,000.