New study adds more evidence that diesel exhaust can damage your heart

Image: Northwestern University

Even as the current U.S. presidential administration is slashing regulations and funding for reducing air pollution and protecting public health, a new English study found that long-term exposure to diesel exhaust particulate matter at levels far below EPA standards can cause enlargement of the heart, which is associated with increased heart disease and deaths.

“There is strong evidence that particulate matter (PM) emitted mainly from diesel road vehicles is associated with increased risk of heart attack, heart failure, and death” Dr. Nay Aung, Queen Mary University of London

Lead researcher Dr. Nay Aung said that reducing diesel emissions should be a public health priority.  She recommended that people with cardiac and respiratory diseases limit time spent outside during rush hour and that everyone reduce their exposure to diesel exhaust by bicycling and walking on less-polluted routes and as far from traffic as possible.  


For more information, see:

Study: Diesel Pollution (PM 2.5) Tied Directly To Heart Damage, CleanTechnica

Diesel pollution linked to heart damage, European Society of Cardiology

Save the date for the 4th International Moving Forward Network Conference – October 13-14

This is an educational conference that will provide data, insights and shared practices to create more effective policies and strategies for communities impacted by ports, rail yards, intermodal facilities, distribution centers, trucking routes and other goods movement activities.

To receive more information, sign up here.


MFN 4th National Conference


Nikola announces “The end of diesel engines”, promises zero-emissions semi-truck with 1200 mile range by 2020

On December 1, Utah start-up Nikola Motor Company unveiled a fully operational truck they say spells the end of diesel-powered trucking – the Nikola One – a zero-emissions Class 8 semi-truck with sleeper cab that will carry a full load for a very long distance.

“Say goodbye to the days of dirty diesel…” 

                                                             Trevor Milton, CEO of Nikola Motor Company

This is truly a zero emissions truck, with solar-generated hydrogen used in a fuel cell under the hood to charge batteries that power electric motors on each wheel.  The only emissions are water vapor. The truck will generate over 1000 horsepower (twice that of most production trucks), and have a range of 1200 miles and a huge amount of torque.  The specifications for the truck are nothing short of amazing – check them out here.

To provide the national infrastructure needed, Nikola plans to build a network of almost 400 solar-powered hydrogen generating and refueling stations, and to lease the trucks through the Ryder System, which will also provide maintenance and other services.  The cost – just $5-7,000 per month to lease a truck, with free fuel for the first million miles.


The truck promises many other advantages – including faster acceleration and a shorter stopping distance than diesel-powered rigs, and an in-cockpit computer system that will allow owner-operators to book freight while on the road. Nikola is also offering a ‘day cab’ version of the truck called the Nikola Two. View the video above for more on that topic and others.

As an added bonus, the refueling stations will sell hydrogen to any customers, which could lend impetus to the development and sale of Zero Emissions cars based on the same hydrogen-electric technology.

Will this really happen? Things look promising.  The company claims to have pre-orders for over $3 billion in trucks.  It plans to announce the location of their $1 billion manufacturing plant in 2017, and to begin construction of the refueling stations in January 2018.

For more information, check out the articles below, and the Nikola Motor Company website.

Hydrogen Could Help Heavy Trucks Clean Up Their Act, NBC News

Nikola Motor Company Unveiling — Details On “Zero Emissions” Semi Truck, CleanTechnica

A Tesla-Inspired Truck Might Actually Make Hydrogen Power Happen, Wired Magazine

Nikola Motors Introduces Hydrogen-Electric Semi Truck, Fortune Magazine

New electric Class 8 truck: 1,000 hp, 1,200-mile range, Overdrive

Toxic Dust, Love and Asthma: A Mother’s Story in the Imperial Valley

Share Onyx and Humberto’s conversation and support the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign.

Onyx Bazulto lives in the Imperial Valley in Southern California, where air quality is poor and one in five children has asthma. Her community of Brawley is located between the Salton Sea and the border crossing at Calexico-Mexicali, along a heavily traveled freight corridor.

Humberto Hugo, policy advocate with Comite Civico Del Valle, spoke with Onyx about what motivates her to do community health and education work. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on

ONYX BAZULTO: I decided to take that step to change my community because I, for one, care for my family and their health. Both my daughter and I and my mom have asthma and ever since we moved to the Imperial Valley we’ve had many issues of allergies — having to go to the hospital plenty of times because of symptoms of asthma.


The first step I took to do something in our community was research and speaking out to family, friends and neighbors who were dealing with the same issues.


We live in a dust bowl, below sea level. Every other coastal area — all their pollution surrounds us and sinks in, as well as the incoming diesel contamination from the international exchange of goods.


Where I live, not even 10 feet away … trucks have found our nearby gas station to be a truck stop. Every day, every night, you’ll see a long row of semis idling their vehicles for long periods of time. And you know I live right next to the gas station. So I can see a lot of dust enter my home. And then you can smell the smog. So I never have my windows open. And it causes a lot of coughing for my daughter. I always have to be careful. She can’t even play outside.


I frequently have to dust, sweep, mop my home to lift the dust and dirt. I have to change AC air filters more than two times a month. It’s a rare joy to open my door and windows. When I do, a lot of dust comes in.


I would really love to have our community become more aware of their surrounding environmental justice issues and have them advocate to defend themselves.

PLEASE JOIN Onyx Bazulto and Humberto Hugo in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation and show your support.

LEARN MORE about the work they are doing to improve the quality of life in the Imperial Valley by following Comite Civico Del Valle.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

A Grandson Returns to East L.A. to Fight For Clean Air

Share mark!’s conversation with his grandparents and support the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign.

mark! Lopez was born into a family of organizers and is driven by an early memory of a community march when he was just a toddler in a stroller. He majored in Environmental Studies and earned a masters degree in Chicano studies and returned to the community where he grew up, to work for Communities for A Better Environment and then East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, where he is now the executive director.

mark! was interviewed by his grandparents, Juana and Ricardo Gutierrez. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on

JUANA GUTIERREZ: Cual fue el primer paso que tomaste para convertirte en un agente de cambio en nuestra comunidad y que te motivo para dar ese paso?

JUANA GUTIERREZ: What was the first step you took to become a change agent in your community and what motivated you to take that step?

MARK! LOPEZ: Pues no fue un paso creo que uno de los recuerdos que tengo ni de un ano o dos anos creo fue una marcha. Anduvimos en una marcha en 6th street u otro bridge pero estábamos cruzando y yo andaba en un stroller. Y recuerdo la danza Azteca, el tambor y pues ahí con toda la familia y la comunidad marchando. Y me imagino que fue por el prison, pero ese es uno de mis primer recuerdos de mi vida. Ese recuerdo me motivo y es como un guía para ensenarme que es funcionar en comunidad y creci haciendo este trabajo de la comunidad entonces siempre pense que este era algo normal que tenia que hacer.

MARK! LOPEZ: It was not a step. One of my first memories when I was one or two years old was when we were in a march. This march on 6th street, or another bridge, but we were crossing it and I was in my stroller. I remember the danza Azteca, the drums and being there with family and the community marching. This memory is my motivation and my guide as to how to be part of a community. Since I grew up doing this community work, I thought this was the norm and something I had to do.

RICARDO GUTIERREZ: Puedes compartir un tema importante que estás trabajando y tu visión para un futuro mejor?

RICHARD GUTIERREZ: Can you share one important thing you are working on right now and what your visión for a better future looks like?

MARK! LOPEZ: Pues creo que algo que hemos aprendido mucho en el movimiento el que nosotros tenemos que ser los que luchan, nadien va a venir a nuestro rescate. Entonces por ese nosotros tenemos que tener una visión para lo que queremos. Porque si solo les decimos que no queremos solo van a traer mas ideas que nos afectan y no va ha ser algo de beneficio para la comunidad. Entonces en todo el trabajo que hacemos tenemos que empezar con entender el problema, como nos impacta y averiguar que es lo que podemos hacer, que hay de opciones, que es lo que están haciendo otras comunidades y si no hay ejemplos ver lo que podemos crear o pensar. Entonces eso creo que estamos haciendo con el freeway 710, con la alternativa comunitaria 7, es lo que estamos haciendo al nivel nacional.

En anos pasados quien creía que podíamos tener trocas sin contaminación y ahorita estamos en esa lucha que empieza con nosotros. Las comunidades cerca de los puertos ya tienen muchos anos con mucha contaminación entonces esas platicas, ese movimiento que los puertos para asegurar que los puertos no tengan contaminación en el futuro empieza con nosotros. Como ustedes empezaron a luchar aquí en Boyle Heights y en el este de Los Angeles y yo la siguiente generación de la familia y ahora la generación tercera viendo a Xole y a Luna que vienen después de mi y los demás creo que nos aseguramos que la comunidad va estar en buenas manos.

MARK! LOPEZ: I think one thing we have learned from the movement is that we have to be the ones that fight for ourselves, no one is coming to our rescue. This is why we need to have a vision of what we want. Because if we only tell them what we don’t want they will only bring more projects/ideas that will negatively impact us instead of being a benefit to the community. So in the all the work that we do we must first understand the problem, how it will impact us, and figure out what we can do about it. What are the options, what are other communities doing to fight back and if there are no examples we need to figure it out ourselves. This is what I think we have done with the 710 freeway, with Community Alternative 7. This is also what we are doing at the national level.

Before no one could image we could have trucks without pollution and right now we are in that struggle, but it starts with us. Communities living close to ports have a long history with pollution and its impacts so those conversation around making sure the Ports no longer pollute starts with us. Just like you started the fight here in Boyle Heights and East LA, I am the next generation in my family and now the third generation seeing my daughters Xole and Luna that come after me we are making sure that our community is in good hands.

PLEASE JOIN mark! Lopez and his family in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation and show your support.

LEARN MORE about the work they are doing to improve the quality of life in East L.A. by following East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

Port of Houston to build Zero Emissions Freight System

The Port of Houston is partnering with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute to build a Zero Emissions freight system to move freight containers between its two container terminals, Barbour’s Cut and Bayport.  The Freight Shuttle System (FSS) will move freight containers five miles on a track built above Texas Highway 146 at a cost of about 10 cents per mile, reducing traffic congestion and air pollution.

Adrian Shelley, executive director of MFN member Air Alliance Houston, and Stephanie Thomas of Public Citizen recently visited Texas A&M to watch the unveiling of the FSS and learn more about it from Dr. Stephen Roop, chief scientist at Freight Shuttle International and professor at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Adrian Shelly and Stephanie Thomas at Texas A&M University

Adrian Shelly and Stephanie Thomas at Texas A&M University

Learn more about their visit and this very promising technology in Stephanie Thomas’ blog post, Can the Freight Shuttle Reduce Cngestion and Clean Houston’s Air?

For more information, check out the video and news links below.

Houston port shuttle hailed as potential freight-handling breakthrough, Houston Chronicle

Texas A&M Transportation Institute unveils freight shuttle prototype,

Forget Hyperloop: This Awful-Looking Thing Can Move Your Stuff, Wired Magazine


From Ecuador to Seattle, a mother driven by belief in the right to a healthy environment

Share Paulina’s interview and support the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign.

Paulina López moved to Seattle from Ecuador, where she was involved in community organizing with indigenous people on issues such as health and education. She is the mother of three boys in elementary school and has contributed her time for a decade as the volunteer president for South Park Information Resource Center, a grassroots community organization that supports the civic engagement of recent immigrants, with special focus on women. She is passionate about advocating for underrepresented communities, and has been concerned with environmental justice issues uniquely affecting South Park’s recent immigrant communities, such as the clean-up of the Duwamish River.

Paulina was interviewed by Dionne Foster, who was a Policy Analyst at Puget Sound Sage at the time of the interview (and now works for the city of Seattle), about what motivated her activism and what hopes she has for the future. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on

PAULINE LOPEZ: A long time ago, when I moved here to South Park, I realized the need we had to get people more involved in civic engagement, civic process – just people more involved in how to build a community.


Big decisions were being (made) and the neighbors were not being part of the decisions. For example, in 2005 there was a big document that the city was writing on how to make South Park a better community, and the participation from Latinos was zero. So I started to wonder, “Why are the voices of the main population that exists in South Park not at the table?” … and that’s how the South Park Information Resource Center came up.


Unfortunately the environment is very poor … I love my neighborhood, I love South Park, but it does make you wonder if you’re doing the right thing by having your little ones here.


One of the things that struck me once – I was talking to a teenager, and we were explaining about the asthma rates being so high in South Park, and she was saying, “You know I always grew up with asthma but I thought it was a normal thing because all my classmates in school have it.” And I thought, “What?!” It can be so big that they think it’s a normal part of life to have asthma.


South Park has a lot of needs, but I always concentrate on the assets. We have a very strong community of advocates … We have a very large immigrant and refugee population here … The Vietnamese population is closer to the highway so they were very concerned about emissions from the trucks. They have been very active on what can we do to improve. They’ve been giving us ideas. So I think it’s been important to hear from everyone.


Sometimes words like “environmental justice” doesn’t really read to them until you explain: “health” for you. “Oh, health, yes, health, I’m very worried about the health of my kids.” So I hope whatever we can do together will benefit the grassroots level of our community in ways that will be meaningful to them.

PLEASE JOIN Paulina López and Dionne Foster in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation and show your support.

LEARN MORE about the work Paulina and Dionne are doing to improve the quality of life in Seattle by following South Park Information and Resource Center and Puget Sound Sage.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

The next generation of environmental justice leadership: Juan Parras talks with Yudith Nieto

Share Juan and Yudith’s conversation and support the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign.

Yudith Neito was born in Mexico and grew up in Manchester, an east Houston neighborhood surrounded by oil refineries and other heavy industry. She first became involved with environmental justice organizing when she attended public meetings to translate for her grandmother. She learned about environmental causes for the asthma, heart disease and other ailments that plagued her family and community. The more she learned, the more deeply committed she became to improving the quality of life in Manchester and addressing the larger systemic problems at the root of her community’s suffering.

Yudith was interviewed by her mentor and friend Juan Parras, Director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, about what motivated her activism and what hopes she has for the future. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on


YUDITH NIETO: We first got here in 1995 or ’96. We emigrated from Mexico. So Manchester is one of the cheapest places in Houston to settle, to live, actually for newcomers or immigrants or low-income people.


The best of my community is that it’s a very tight-knit community. I grew up with a lot of my friends, and a lot of their families still live there. We are very connected in the sense that my whole family is there. The worst part of it, of course, is all the pollution that surrounds it. We’re surrounded on all sides — from petroleum refineries to metal-crushing facilities, to water treatment plants. So that’s the worst of it. We get a lot of the contamination and the pollution in our air, and even our soil, our water is polluted. So the worst is also being pushed to the margins, where a lot of political people do not come in to do anything or talk about the issues in our communities.


In our community people get used to certain things. They often say that you get used to the smells. But that apathy that I was confronted with sometimes, when I asked questions, sort of inspired me to do something about it.


One of the big things we’re working on right now is the Zero Emissions campaign, where we’re talking about eliminating emissions from certain facilities and adopting zero emission technology to help communities deal with the pollution and take a step into a better way of making energy. So that’s one of the things that our communities are a part of right now. I’m actively working on getting more people involved – more young people. So that we can have a strong, youth-based organization that can lead the way in finding better solutions.

PLEASE JOIN Juan Parras and Yudith Nieto in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation and show your support.

LEARN MORE about the work Juan Parras and Yudith Nieto are doing to improve the quality of life in Houston by following T.E.J.A.S.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

Entonces Ahorita Estamos a Tiempo en Hacer Este Cambio

Share Laura Cortez’ conversation with Maribel Mireles and show your support for the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign.


Maribel Mireles lives in Long Beach, California and became involved in environmental justice organizing after her son was diagnosed with asthma. She has been advocating for policies that would reduce truck traffic and diesel pollution from the port of Long Beach.


Maribel was interviewed by Laura Cortez, Assistant Project Manager for Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on


MARIBEL MIRELES: El primer paso que tome para convertirme en una persona de cambio en nuestra comunidad fue mi hijo, porque el fue diagnosticado con asma. Entonces eso fue lo que me motivo a interesarme en este tema porque la verdad no estaba muy enterada de lo que era el asma y lo que conllevaba en asma. Y los cuidados que tenía que tener con esa enfermera.

The first step I took in becoming a change agent in my community was my son, because he was diagnosed with asthma. That is what motivated me to become interested in this topic because I really wasn’t informed about what asthma was and what it entailed. And the care he needed to get from the nurse.

El impacto que yo tengo en mi vida es que — yo vivo en el norte de Long Beach y estoy en un cruzo de dos autopistas importantes de aquí y en el sur de California. Son la 710 y el 91. También estoy un poco cerca al puerto de Long Beach entonces los camiones pasan diariamente por la autopista para llegar a cargar su mercancía. Entonces estos camiones después toman la interestatal 91 para dirigirse hacia los valles, hacia lo que es Riverside y donde están las bodegas más grandes. Entonces esa afecta nuestra salud por el diesel que emiten esos camiones. Y esto a su vez tiene un efecto dómino porque con el tiempo pues más gente se va enfermar de asma. Más niños y más adultos.

The impact it has in my life is that — I live in North Long Beach and I’m by two important freeways in southern California. The 710 and the 91. I’m also a little close to the port of Long Beach, so the trucks pass on a daily basis through the freeway to go and load their merchandise. Then these trucks take the 91 freeway to head to the valleys, toward Riverside where there are large warehouses. This impacts our health because of all the diesel pollution that is emitted from the trucks. And this has a domino effect because with time more people are going to get asthma. More children and more adults.

El tema más importante en el que estamos trabajando en la organización de LBACA para mi es la expansión del 710 y eso es algo que afecta a miles de personas, tanto niños como adultos porque solamente en la ciudad de Long Beach tenemos más de 15,000 niños con asma. Entonces que nos espera en un futuro cuando se expanda el freeway? Cuantas más emisiones de diesel van a ver con una expansión así tan grande y cuantos niños mas van a sufrir las consecuencias de esta expansión?

For me one of the most important topics we are working on in the LBACA (Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma) organization is the 710 expansion because it impacts thousands of people, not just kids but adults as well. In Long Beach we have more than 15,000 children with asthma. So what can we expect in the future if this freeway is expanded? How much more diesel emission would there be with that huge expansion and how many more children will suffer the consequences for this expansion?

Pues que piensemos en el futuro de nuestros hijos y nuestros nietos que ellos son los que van a quedar con esto, estos contaminantes que afectan no solamente en el asma sino también es algo cancerifico que también provoca el cáncer. Entonces ahorita estamos a tiempo en hacer este cambio.

Let’s think of the future of our kids and grandkids because they are the ones that will be stuck with this, these pollutants that not only affect asthma but can also be carcinogenic and lead to cancer. We are in time to make a change.

PLEASE JOIN Maribel Mirales and Laura Cortez in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation and show your support.

LEARN MORE about the work they are doing to improve the quality of life in Long Beach by following Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

How to reduce your exposure to diesel exhaust pollution and protect your health

Diesel exhaust is dangerous to your health.  It contains tiny carbon particles, each coated with 30 or more toxins.  Small particles can enter your bloodstream through your lungs, and carry toxins to organs throughout your body. The smallest particles can enter your brain.

Credit: Laura Marschke, Southwest Early College

Photo credit: Laura Marschke, Southwest Early College

The World Health Organization has declared that diesel exhaust causes cancer, and hundreds of scientific studies have linked it to numerous health problems in children, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression, autism and autism spectrum disorder, birth defects, brain cancer, impulsivity and emotional problems, insulin resistance & diabetes, leukemia, low birth weight, lupus, lung damage and other respiratory problems, mental illness, obesity, preterm birth, and reduced intelligence.

Diesel exhaust has also been linked to anxiety, asthma, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, cognitive decline, reduction in brain volume, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, dementia, cardiovascular diseases, and strokes, high blood pressure, premature death, respiratory disease, and suicide.

The people most at risk of diesel exhaust related illnesses are the more than 45 million people who live or work near ports, rail yards, or distribution centers, or within 150 meters of a major highway. A disproportionate percentage of that population are low-income and/or members of minority groups.

The EPA recently agreed to the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign request by the Moving Forward Network and colleagues that they form an interagency team to figure out how to reduce the amount of diesel exhaust pollution these millions of people are exposed to, but that will not happen overnight.

Until the government takes action to reduce these health risks, you should take whatever actions you can to protect yourself and your family!  There is a lot you can do, summarized below, with links for more information:

  • Pay attention to your city’s local Air Quality Index, which will let you know when your city’s air is dangerous and you should avoid outdoor activities. Learn more about this here. But be aware that the air in neighborhoods near pollution sources can be unhealthy even when air in the rest of the city is safe.

  • Always avoid exercising near high traffic areas or other highly polluted areas.  Get more information on that from the American Lung Association.

  • Whether you bike, drive, walk, or take public transit to work or play, try to avoid heavy highway or rail freight routes. Research shows that bicyclists can reduce their exposure by 20-30 percent by choosing less polluted routes. Get more details from Colorado State University.

  • Don’t drive a diesel powered vehicle if you can avoid it – especially an old or poorly maintained vehicle.

  • If you can, avoid living near freight routes, warehouse districts, ports, or rail yards.

  • If you must live in an area with unhealthy levels of air pollution, keep your indoor air clean, buy or build a HEPA filter, and close up your house when air pollution is the most dangerous. Check out this video to learn how to build one for about $25.

  • If you must be outside when particulate matter levels are unhealthy, consider wearing a surgical mask, especially if you are a member of a sensitive group. The New York Times has good information on how to choose one.

  • If you find yourself in your car in traffic with unsafe levels of air pollution, close your windows, and turn off your fan or outside air source.  The latest research on the effectiveness of this approach is here.

Do you have other ideas on how to protect yourself?  Please share them in comments here!

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