Air pollutants have been significantly reduced in the streets of the Sant Antoni neighborhood of Barcelona where the second superblock of the city was developed. A study by the Barcelona Public Health Agency (ASPB), which depends on the City Council, details that between 2017 and 2018, before and after the works on Comte Borrell and Tamarit streets, NO2 and PM10 levels decreased by 25 % and 17%, respectively.
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The report, which analyzes the impact on health of the first three superblocks in the city (Sant Antoni, Poblenou and Horta), concludes that their neighbors have experienced improvements in sleep quality, social interaction and active mobility, according to communicated the consistory. For the study, the Agency has used air quality and noise meters, has carried out surveys at street level, measurements of physical activity and has formed discussion groups to find out the opinion of those who live in the area.
The study has also been prepared in collaboration with research teams from the University of Vic (Barcelona), ISGlobal and the Directorate for gender services and weather policies of the Barcelona City Council, with the support of the Partnership for Healthy Cities.
Regarding the fall in pollution, the effect on Sant Antoni –which is within the Eixample district, the district with the most pollution– is clear. But in the rest, not so much. In Horta, an area with less traffic from the start, the values have not changed significantly. And in Poblenou, the Agency did not have previous data to compare, although it does note that motorized traffic has been reduced. But he warns that this could have been displaced: “Some groups say that pollution may have been increased in the streets around the superblock.”
In the Horta superblock, for their part, 60% of women and 66% of men emphasize that the intervention allows better walking on the street. Furthermore, 45% of women and 56% of men consider that well-being has increased overall.
The report also includes the activity that takes place within these pedestrian spaces, which allows us to verify how busy the Sant Antoni superblock is. Its use, according to the document, is 900 people per hour. Most wear it or walk through it or sit or play. Those who exercise are only 2% of women and 6% of men.