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Meet Bright City Tempe, Arizona

Tempe Butte, also known as “A” Mountain, overlooks the bustling streets of Tempe and the home of Arizona State University. Tempe Town Lake lies within the heart of Tempe and provides unparalleled opportunities for water recreation in a dense metro area. Construction is underway for the first modern streetcar line in the Valley stretching through downtown Tempe, with 14 stops each featuring original artwork. Tempe’s streetcar is designed to connect riders to regional destinations and neighborhoods while supporting Tempe’s green transportation goals.

One of the City of Tempe’s goals is to be the most sustainable city in Arizona. Two components of sustainability in Tempe are the City’s commitment to climate action and to addressing extreme heat. And, actions in both of these areas reduce neurotoxic exposures in pregnant moms and babies. For example, data about air pollution concentrations and daytime temperatures at city parks and playgrounds frequented by young families would inform ways to reduce air pollution and cooling strategies.

Trees and hedges have been shown to reduce air pollution levels through interception of airborne particles (including neurotoxicants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs) and/or through uptake of gaseous air pollution. To better understand the impact that vegetation has on air pollution, Tempe City Staff and their community-based partner Dr. Jenni Vanos of Arizona State University will take air pollution measurements both in the presence and in the absence of dense vegetation, otherwise known as “vegetative barriers”. Simultaneously, the team will work with Tempe’s urban forester to generate a list of plants that can act as effective vegetative barriers that also meet Tempe’s safety criteria.

Data from this project will be used to design and plant a vegetative barrier near a Tempe City park frequented by young families. City staff will also organize a public event at the Tempe library to provide public education about how potential neurotoxic exposures in homes, air, and food can be reduced.

Would your City benefit from similar actions? Or, is your City interested in being part of the Bright Cities program?

To discuss this and anything else, please contact Bright Cities Program Director, Kyra Naumoff Shields at knaumoff@hbbf.org.

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