Is Living Close to I-5 Bad For Your Health?

A friend and co-worker is looking to relocate back to Capitol Hill. In his quest for Capitol Hill housing he has talked to a number of friends and agents and had not one, but two people recommend that he not live within a half mile of I-5 because of degraded air quality (a half mile from I-5 on Capitol Hill would put you at 12th.)

1813056732 3fa208d18d Is Living Close to I 5 Bad For Your Health?
Photo from: Seen Not Heard on Flickr.

Having lived two blocks from I-5 in a west facing unit at The Carroll Apartments on Bellevue (rumored to go conversion but hasn’t yet) I certainly found that I often had very dirty window sills but didn’t notice any change in health when I moved across the street to to the Meritage or half a mile away at Trace Lofts.

Because I’m unwilling to pull out my math degree to figure out some air dispersion modeling I thought I’d ask here if anyone had an anecdotal stories of air quality and I-5, I-90, 520 or 99.

About Matt

Matt , Urbnlivn's publisher, has a love for lofts with industrial features and new construction condos that is only eclipsed by his passion for outdoor sports and urban living. Phrases such as “polished concrete” and “exposed brick” are music to his ears. You can also find Matt on Twitter or skiing.

  • Mike M.

    A bit out of the scope, but I live 500 feet from 405 and work 600 feet from 520 and have been pleased with the air quality.

  • Mike M.

    A bit out of the scope, but I live 500 feet from 405 and work 600 feet from 520 and have been pleased with the air quality.

  • http://stroupecondoblog.com Justin Bowers

    Can’t be that bad. I remember some time ago that Seattle was praised for it’s overall air quality. I’m sure the difference isn’t anything worth shaking a stick at. I live off 10th in Capitol Hill and the only complaint I have is the homeless. Also, with gas prices going the way they are, I’m sure we’ll start seeing less and less single driver commuters. I just sold mine 2 weeks ago.

  • http://stroupecondoblog.com Justin Bowers

    Can’t be that bad. I remember some time ago that Seattle was praised for it’s overall air quality. I’m sure the difference isn’t anything worth shaking a stick at. I live off 10th in Capitol Hill and the only complaint I have is the homeless. Also, with gas prices going the way they are, I’m sure we’ll start seeing less and less single driver commuters. I just sold mine 2 weeks ago.

  • CG

    Here’s a reference to a story from the February 2007 issue of the British medical journal, The Lancet: “Living Near Highways Can Stunt Lungs,” http://www.usc.edu/uscnews/stories/13313.html. It claims that children who lived within 500 meters of a busy highway had increased likelihood of impaired lung function. I also live on the west slope of Capitol Hill, fairly close to I-5. I suppose an ameliorative feature in Seattle is that the more frequent wind we experience in this region helps disperse the toxic auto fumes, at least as compared to other cities.

  • CG

    Here’s a reference to a story from the February 2007 issue of the British medical journal, The Lancet: “Living Near Highways Can Stunt Lungs,” http://www.usc.edu/uscnews/stories/13313.html. It claims that children who lived within 500 meters of a busy highway had increased likelihood of impaired lung function. I also live on the west slope of Capitol Hill, fairly close to I-5. I suppose an ameliorative feature in Seattle is that the more frequent wind we experience in this region helps disperse the toxic auto fumes, at least as compared to other cities.

  • Matthew Patricelli

    I live close to I 5 and don’t notice any degradation of air quality, but it is in a trench at that point and it would have to rise to get out and then drop to get to me.

  • Matthew Patricelli

    I live close to I 5 and don’t notice any degradation of air quality, but it is in a trench at that point and it would have to rise to get out and then drop to get to me.

  • http://www.alexloddengaard.com Alex Loddengaard

    I’m from Los Angeles, where the air quality is probably close to the worst in the country. Air quality is vastly different when comparing downtown to the beach. However, the difference of maybe a mile is probably negligible. Just my opinion; I don’t live near the 5.

  • http://www.alexloddengaard.com Alex Loddengaard

    I’m from Los Angeles, where the air quality is probably close to the worst in the country. Air quality is vastly different when comparing downtown to the beach. However, the difference of maybe a mile is probably negligible. Just my opinion; I don’t live near the 5.

  • andyf

    I know Professor Christine Bae at the UW has done research on Freeway Air Pollution Sheds (FAPS) in Seattle.

    http://www.envplan.com/abstract.cgi?id=b32124

  • andyf

    I know Professor Christine Bae at the UW has done research on Freeway Air Pollution Sheds (FAPS) in Seattle.

    http://www.envplan.com/abstract.cgi?id=b32124

  • http://twitter.com/mattgoyer mattgoyer

    Thanks for the link to that research. From the abstract, “Because many mobile-source emissions decay rapidly with distance, approaching background concentrations at 330 ft from the freeway, populations living near limited access roads are most at risk from exposure.”

    So if we’re talking about I-5 and Capitol Hill then living east of Bellevue Ave means you’ll only see background concentrations. Bad news if you live on Melrose though!

  • http://blog.mattgoyer.com Matt

    Thanks for the link to that research. From the abstract, “Because many mobile-source emissions decay rapidly with distance, approaching background concentrations at 330 ft from the freeway, populations living near limited access roads are most at risk from exposure.”

    So if we’re talking about I-5 and Capitol Hill then living east of Bellevue Ave means you’ll only see background concentrations. Bad news if you live on Melrose though!

  • http://www.jamespatt.com Jim

    I have just contacted an air quality consultant w/ Puget Sound Regional Council & will get back to you if any additional studies/pertinent info exists. I reside on Federal Ave E, also within the claimed .5 miles of I-5….have never noticed any evidence of higher levels of fall-out/particulate accumulation on windows & exteriors from other parts of city, as a realtor, I see many homes all over. I believe that noise pollution would be the main reason to not purchase near a major highway….I apply roughly a 4 to 5 block rule there, unless there is a direct view (of freeway)…then 5 to10 blocks.

  • http://www.jamespatt.com Jim

    I have just contacted an air quality consultant w/ Puget Sound Regional Council & will get back to you if any additional studies/pertinent info exists. I reside on Federal Ave E, also within the claimed .5 miles of I-5….have never noticed any evidence of higher levels of fall-out/particulate accumulation on windows & exteriors from other parts of city, as a realtor, I see many homes all over. I believe that noise pollution would be the main reason to not purchase near a major highway….I apply roughly a 4 to 5 block rule there, unless there is a direct view (of freeway)…then 5 to10 blocks.

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    I have a friend that lives about 9 miles from I5 and have never heard him complain of degradation of air quality . Most people I think are relenteless on the location regarding their health.

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    A bit out of the scope, but I live 500 feet from 405 and work 600 feet from 520 and have been pleased with the air quality.

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    moved across the street to to the Meritage or half a mile away at Trace Lofts.

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