Diesel exhaust air pollution has been linked to an extensive list of health problems, including birth defects, poorly developed lungs, autism, hyperactivity, asthma, and decreased intelligence in children; and cancer, respiratory disease, heart attacks, strokes, and premature death.
Communities can and do address one of the major sources of diesel exhaust air pollution – heavy duty trucks – by taking actions like requiring buffer zones around warehouses, building barriers, implementing idling rules, and requiring newer, cleaner trucks.
The one deadly source that communities are virtually prohibited from regulating are railroad locomotives, which also cause noise problems, associated with additional health issues.
Unfortunately, railroads can be arrogant neighbors, and often refuse to resolve the situation, leaving the community and society to bear the physical, mental, health care and other costs.
A few recent examples:
Pennsylvania – Idling train keeps Middleton family up at night, (CSX)
What’s the solution? Railroads should be not be allowed to damage the health of their neighbors. Check out the excellent recommendations for EPA action by the National Environmental Justice Advisory Group, many of which are relevant to railroad air pollution and have not been implemented.
Reducing Air Emissions Associated With Goods Movement: Working Towards Environmental Justice (PDF) (48 pp, 1.9MB)
Stay tuned for more on this topic, coming soon.