Environmental Equity Laboratory

The Environmental Equity Laboratory (LAEQ) seeks to bring together sustainable planning and health in a more equitable and sustainable vision of the city.

The laboratory’s work is part of an environmental justice research trend that focuses on specific groups of the population (defined, for example, by income, age, or ethnicity) who experience overexposure to pollution (air pollution, noise) and reduced access to positive elements of the urban environment (urban vegetation, parks, urban resources).

More generally, the LAEQ research program contributes to broader conversations about sociospatial justice in geography and urban studies. The program aims to enrich debate on the definition of the equitable city by considering notions of distributional justice, recognitional justice, and procedural justice.

Research conducted at LAEQ creates specific indicators on the spatial distribution of negative and beneficial elements that affect quality of life.

At LAEQ, 14 graduate students with research interests ranging from air pollution and noise to urban vegetation and parks have access to cutting-edge equipment and powerful computers to carry out their research.

The lab boasts state-of-the-art instruments for collecting data on real-time exposure to air pollution and traffic noise, including:

  • 18 personal portable air quality monitors (Aeroqual 500 series)
  • 6 nitrogen dioxide sensors (NO2)
  • 6 ozone sensors (O3)
  • 6 particulate matter sensors (PM2.5 and PM10)
  • 18 temperature and humidity sensors
  • 10 Brüel & Kjær personal noise dosimeters (model 4448)
  • 10 Brüel & Kjær sound calibrators (model 4231)
  • 10 Garmin Forerunner 920XT watches
  • 10 Hexoskin biometric shirts (heart rate, minute ventilation, cadence, etc.)
  • 7 Garmin VIRB XE action cameras
  • 3 Codaxus devices for distance measurement

The laboratory also has a facility for analyzing urban environmental data. Equipment includes:

  • A web and spatial data server
  • 16 high-performance computers with data analysis software
  • 10 Samsung tablets for collecting data in the field

GIS and remote sensing software

  • QGIS
  • ArcGIS and extensions (Geostatistical Analyst, Network Analyst, Publisher, Schematics, Spatial Analyst, Tracking Analyst)
  • ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Mobile
  • Brüel & Kjær Predictor-LimA for modelling traffic noise
  • ENVI + IDL, ENVI Feature Extraction, ENVI LiDAR
  • eCognition Developer


Spatial analysis software

  • GeoDA, PySAL, GeoDaSpace, GeoDaNet
  • CrimeStat
  • SaTScan
  • GWR4
  • Geo-Segregation Analyzer

Statistical analysis software

  • R
  • SAS
  • HLM
  • Latent Gold

Development software

  • Eclipse (Java)
  • PyScripter

Here are two examples of the kind of work carried out by the lab:

  • The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) asked LAEQ to study emerging issues related to the planning of cycling infrastructure that would make Canadian cities more equitable and sustainable.
  • In partnership with Ministère des Transports, the lab is modelling air pollution along major traffic arteries in the Montreal Metropolitan Community.

In short, LAEQ research is centred on exposure to urban nuisances as well as access to the positive aspects of urban life, namely:

  • Air pollution
  • Traffic noise
  • Vegetation
  • Urban parks
  • Urban resources (shopping, healthcare, etc.)


The lab analyzes the spatial concentration and distribution of pollution and beneficial elements in cities worldwide, including:

  • Cyclists’ exposure to air and noise pollution in cities in the northern (North America and Europe) and southern (South Asia, India, Latin America, and Africa) hemispheres.
  • Spatial distribution of negative elements (air pollution and traffic noise) and beneficial elements (vegetation and accessibility to urban resources).
  • The complex interrelationships between the distribution of negative and beneficial elements.
  • Types of spaces based on combinations of negative and beneficial elements.
  • The development of multidimensional environmental equity diagnostics for different population groups (young children, the elderly, disadvantaged households, visible minorities, etc.).


LAEQ also measures individual exposure to negative and beneficial elements based on mobility habits. This can include:

  • Analyzing variations in the actual simultaneous exposure of individuals to pollution and noise based on how, why, where, and when they travel.
  • Linking pollution exposure to travel environments in terms of vegetation, available services and amenities, and land use patterns.
  • Ascertaining whether individuals are aware of the levels of pollution they are exposed to, whether they develop mitigation strategies by adjusting their mobility habits, and whether they make compromises between pollution exposure and accessibility to urban resources.


LAEQ’s work targets four economically or physiologically vulnerable groups:

  • Disadvantaged households
  • Racial and ethnocultural minorities
  • Recent immigrants
  • Children and the elderly

LAEQ was created through a grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (FCI) and the Government of Quebec.


Philippe Apparico
Professor and Scientific leader
Email: philippe.apparicio@ucs.inrs.ca
Phone: 514-499-4064

Environmental Equity Laboratory

Institut national de la recherche scientifique

Urbanisation Culture Société Research Centre

385 rue Sherbrooke Est

Montreal, Quebec H2X 1E3


View on the map


LAEQ website