August 27, 2008

Health Impacts of Air Pollution from Motor Vehicles: An Empirical Study of Sydney Research Proposal



1.0  Background of the Study

An average person inhales about 20, 000 liters of air everyday, exposing to risk of dangerous chemicals in air each time human breathe. Air pollution contains contaminants in the atmosphere and these dangerous substances could be either in the form of gases or particles. Air pollution has diverse and numerous effects. It can have serious consequences for the health as well as severely affect the natural ecosystems. Today, some areas suffer more than others from air pollution. Two of the main reasons are the large numbers of automobiles and/or the utilisation of coal in great quantities (Think Quest).Seemingly, motor vehicle-related air pollution is an inescapable reality for urban settlers. In Sydney, for instance, motor vehicles is one of major source of toxic and carcinogenic air pollutants as motor vehicles contribute approximately 80% of nitrogen oxide to the atmosphere. Further, the two prime pollution problems in Sydney are photochemical smog and particle pollution. Particle pollution is a brown haze and is composed of airborne particles of which 24% are from motor vehicle (City of Sydney).

Particulate matter (PM) especially the fine particles are of most concern to human health. This is because fine PM can be inhaled deeply into the lungs; therefore, worsen respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses such as bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma. Motor vehicles also emit carbon monoxide (CO) which interferes with the bloods ability to carry oxygen to the brain, heart and other tissues, and it particularly dangerous for people with heart diseases and unborn children. Motor vehicles, in addition, contribute to the formation of ozone (03), a major harmful ingredient in smog. Ozone inflame and cause harmful changes in breathing passages, decreases the lungs' working ability and cause coughing and chest pains. Another hazardous gas that motor vehicles produce is the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitrogen oxide (NO) that act on the body like ozone and sulfur dioxide (SO2). As such, gas emissions from motor vehicles have serious health implications including cancer, genetic mutation, birth defects and other serious illnesses (Toxic Air Pollution).  

2.0  Statement of the Problem

The problem that will be addressed in the study is the severity of the health impacts of air pollution caused by motor vehicles in Sydney. How and what strategies the government and people of Sydney could contribute in resolving this global issue will be addressed as well. The main purpose of the study is to analyse and evaluate the health impact of motor vehicle-related air pollution in Sydney and to present recommendations for resolving the problem. In lieu with this, the study will answer the following research questions.

1)     How much of Sydney's air pollution come from motor vehicles? In Sydney, how much air pollution do motor vehicles emit?

2)      What are the health and effects of motor vehicle emission? What are the common illnesses caused by motor vehicle emission in Sydney?

3)     What are the major air pollutants in Sydney caused by motor vehicles? How do these air pollutants affect the health of the people?

4)     How does Sydney government regulates motor vehicles emission? How air pollution caused by motor vehicles is being monitored?  

5)     How could motor vehicle emission in Sydney be reduced? What are the role of the government, the authority having jurisdiction and the public? 

3.0  Research Methodology

This study will be using a case study technique to isolate the occurrence of country of origin concept, particularly in the city of Sydney. The study will employ the descriptive research method, which uses observation and surveys. In this method, it is possible that the study would be cheap and quick. Nonetheless, it would be very hard to rule out alternative explanations and especially infer causations. Thus, this study will use the descriptive approach.  This descriptive type of research will utilize observations in the study.  To illustrate the descriptive type of research, Creswell (1994) will guide the researcher when he stated: Descriptive method of research is to gather information about the present existing condition. The purpose of employing this method is to describe the nature of a situation, as it exists at the time of the study and to explore the cause/s of particular phenomena. The researcher opted to use this kind of research considering the desire of the researcher to obtain first hand data from the respondents so as to formulate rational and sound conclusions and recommendations for the study.

The research described in this document is partly based on quantitative research methods. This permits a flexible and iterative approach. During data gathering, the choice and design of methods are constantly modified, based on ongoing analysis. This allows investigation of important new issues and questions as they arise, and allows the investigators to drop unproductive areas of research from the original research plan. The researcher will conduct survey for the residents of Sydney who are hospitalised due to motor-vehicle-related air pollution as well as hospitals and healthcare institutions that admit patients.

This study also employs qualitative research method, since this research intends to find and build theories that would explain the relationship of one variable with another variable through qualitative elements in research. These qualitative elements does not have standard measures, rather they are behavior, attitudes, opinions and beliefs. As such, the researcher will conduct interviews to representatives of Cross City Tunnel Air Quality which monitors the status of air quality in Sydney and NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change to acquire expert opinions.   

4.0  References

Air Pollution. Think Quest. Retrieved on 5 August 2008 from


Creswell, J.W. (1994) Research design. Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.


Toxic Air Pollution – Current Status of Air Pollution in Sydney. Retrieved on 5 August 2008 from


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