Diesel Health Project fights for community health and environmental justice in Kansas City, Kansas

Wyandotte County, home of Kansas City, Kansas, is the most racially diverse county in the Kansas City Metropolitan area, and has the highest poverty rate in the state. It is also home to a large number of heavily polluting industries and sites, including the BNSF Argentine Rail Yard, and its Locomotive Maintenance Facility (pictured above), at which as many as 50 locomotives idle nonstop, just 1200 feet from residents homes.

The result?  Horrible health impacts on its residents, including an infant mortality rate over 30% higher than the State of Kansas, which has the highest Black infant mortality rate in the US. Wyandotte County also has the highest rate of pediatric asthma and second highest percentage of low ­weight babies in the metropolitan area, a very high heart disease rate, and highest Years of Potential Life Lost in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

StoryCorps interview Eric and Leticia Image Card

Among the local organizations working to improve community health is the Diesel Health Project (DHP), which found dangerous levels of diesel exhaust pollution at the BNSF Argentine Railyard.  With help from the Environmental Protection Agency, the DHP has launched a new project, “Building Community Capacity to Protect Air Quality and Environmental Health”

Check out this StoryCorps interview of Leticia DeCaigny, who led air quality monitoring in Kansas City, Kansas to learn more about her experiences as a KCK residents, and her battle to make KCK a safer place for workers and residents.

For more information, see:

Diesel fumes near Kansas City, Kan., rail yard pose health threat, report says, Kansas City Star

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