4/28 Air Quality Focus Group Meeting Notes

Posted April 28th, 2011 by rfoley and filed in Advocacy, Greening Dorchester, Healthy Dorchester

Dotwell, DEHC, and Dorchester residents met at Viet-AID this morning with representatives from the EPA and Harvard School of Public Health to address indoor and outdoor air quality concerns in our neighborhood. The pollutant most targeted is the prevalent Particulate Matter (PM), which can get into the lungs and bloodstream and leads to many instances of cancerous disease. Asthmatic individuals are particularly at risk to suffer negative health effects from air pollution.

The particulate matter in our community is mostly emitted from motor vehicles and especially from cars, trucks, and buses that idle on the street or in parking lots. An awareness campaign will be circulating around Dorchester as a means to reduce car use, idling, and promote healthier options for the community through safe walking, biking, and public transit. Our goal is to educate the community about the concerns of particulate matter, because the resulting health complications of inhaling these pollutants may take decades to manifest and it will be imperative to prevent exposure in our community. We would like to identify the areas of Dorchester with highest concentrations of particulate matter so that people can know how to take action to stay healthy and we want to take action to enforce anti-idling areas especially around schools and health centers as well as significantly reduce the number of local car trips driven in Dorchester.

Indoor Air Quality is another important health concern, as tobacco smoke and radon gas exposure are leading causes of lung cancer. Second-hand smoke and carbon monoxide poisoning from leaving oven doors open are other ways people are exposed to noxious compounds within their homes or place of work. Asbestos and Lead are other toxins found inside buildings that lead to various health problems that are most dangerous for children.

More Air Quality Focus Group Meetings are taking place in the coming months and the Cambridge Science Center is offering free lung-healthiness tests so you can know how healthy your airways are.

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Summer 2010 Air Quality Project Report Update

Posted October 19th, 2010 by rfoley and filed in Healthy Dorchester

As promised earlier this year, here is our update on the Dorchester Avenue Air Quality project: 

In May 2010, DEHC began to collect preliminary data on ultrafine particle pollution at selected locations along the Dorchester Avenue corridor. 
We had several objectives in mind, including getting an idea of pollution “hotspots” warranting further investigation or remediation advocacy, providing baseline data for a before-and-after study of the effects of the Dorchester Avenue Transportation Improvement Project, and encouraging more researchers and, more importantly, funding, to study Dorchester’s air quality.

The project’s stated objectives were:

  • To initiate a before-and-after study of the effects of the Dorchester Avenue Transportation Improvement Project on air quality affecting residents and those travelling on and near the Avenue,
  • To give DEHC an idea of enduring pollution hotspots that would warrant more investigation/possible remediation,
  • To encourage researchers to develop more studies of Dorchester’s air quality,
  • To help direct DEHC advocacy efforts for specific air quality remediation actions – both temporarily during construction and afterwards,
  • To help guide other similar large-scale construction projects with air quality impacts in other Boston neighborhoods,
  • To interest funders in supporting DEHC’s air quality work into the future.

DEHC hired two consultants: David Queeley of Community Sustainability Planning, logistics liaison, and Tim McAuley of CHANGE, who provided us with the equipment (two PTRAKs) and training to enable our amazing team – Lauren Ames, Lauren Anderson, Scot Huber and Laura Santel – to test the air quality several times over several weeks.

Mr. McAuley analyzed the collected preliminary air quality data to produce his report, which you can read here.

We are looking for comments and potential new project ideas from others in the air quality research field, please contact us with your feedback.

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Local Air Quality Advisory for Sept 2

Posted September 2nd, 2010 by rfoley and filed in Healthy Dorchester

Elevated levels of air pollution (ozone) are expected today, Sept. 2, in Boston. Poor air quality may cause health affects among sensitive people. Those most at risk are children, those active outdoors, the elderly, and those with existing respiratory illnesses. It is recommended to limit strenuous outdoor activity – take public transportation or work at home, if possible. For more information click here

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Air Quality Testing: What You Need to Know

CAFEH surveyorsIn May 2010, DEHC began an Air Quality Project to study the effects of the Dorchester Avenue Transportation Improvement Project on air quality affecting travelers and residents on and near the Avenue.  We have finished collecting preliminary air quality data (ultrafine particles) at locations along Dorchester Avenue, and we are now working with CHANGE (Consulting for Health, Air, Nature & Greener Environment) to analyze the data, which we will release on the dehc.org website.  (Click here to view the presentation about air quality we created for Upward Bound and Elmhurst Street Park youth.)

This data will help identify local pollution hotspots, and may help guide other large-scale construction projects that could have air quality impacts in Boston’s neighborhoods.

In addition to DEHC’s air quality project, the Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure and Health (CAFEH), will begin a study of Dorchester’s air quality in September 2010.  CAFEH is a project by Tufts University researchers and  Continue Reading »

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Air Quality Project for Dorchester Ave.

Posted May 14th, 2010 by rfoley and filed in Healthy Dorchester

Dorchester Avenue Air Quality Project:  The Dorchester Environmental Health Coalition (DEHC) is conducting an Air Quality Project, starting this month through July 2010, to collect preliminary air quality data (ultrafine particles) at selected locations along the Dorchester Avenue corridor.  There are several objectives for this project:

·         To initiate a before-and-after study of the effects of the Dorchester Avenue Transportation Improvement Project  on air quality affecting travellers and residents on and near the Avenue

·         To give DEHC an idea of enduring pollution hotspots that might warrant more investigation or possibly remediation

·         To encourage researchers to develop more studies of Dorchester’s local air quality

·         To help DEHC advocate for specific air quality remediation actions – both temporarily during construction and afterwards

·         To help guide other similar large-scale construction projects that may have air quality impacts, in Boston neighborhoods and regionally

·         To interest funders in supporting DEHC’s air quality work into the future

DEHC is working with consultant Tim McAuley of Consulting for Health, Air, Nature & Greener Environment (CHANGE) - he is providing the equipment and training for a team of volunteers who will systematically test air quality at locations along Dorchester Avenue.  After the raw data is collected Mr. McAuley will analyze it and produce a report for DEHC to disseminate to the community. Please take a look at the volunteer opportunity here if you are interested in volunteering. 

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Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure & Health study: CAFEH

Posted May 13th, 2010 by rfoley and filed in Healthy Dorchester

CAFEH study

As DEHC reported in Nov 2009, the CAFEH Study is gathering data about air pollution and its effects on residents’ health in three communities.  CAFEH is a community based participatory study conducted through Tufts University School of Medicine and four community partners, Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership, Committee for Boston Public Housing, Inc., Chinatown Resident Association and Chinese Progressive Association.

Scientific research on air pollution from motor vehicle exhaust has shown that residents living close to heavily traveled highways may have increased rates of heart disease, asthma, and lung cancer because of their exposure to the nearby highway pollutants.  Residents living in Somerville, South Boston, Dorchester and Chinatown along I-93 and the Mass Pike have high exposure to traffic on these highways.  Activists in these communities Continue Reading »

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tonight! Fairmount Corridor meeting

Air Quality Flags

Posted March 8th, 2010 by rfoley and filed in Healthy Dorchester, Opportunities

We are looking for highly visible public locations in both the Fields Corner and the Ashmont areas of Dorchester for our air quality awareness program.  DEHC has several sets of nylon banners designed to hang outdoors.  Each banner is 3′ x 6′ and shows by its color – green, yellow or red – whether the day’s air quality is Good, Moderate or Unhealthy according to the EPA’s daily email EnviroFlash notification system. EPA Air Quality alerts are issued in the late afternoon when ground-level ozone and/or fine particle concentrations are predicted to be elevated, or approaching unhealthy levels on the following day in our area.
Currently, DEHC has two air quality flag locations - in front of the Codman Square Health Center and at Bowdoin Street Health Center.  DEHC needs two more prominent outdoor locations to hang the flags and an interested individual to be in charge of the flags at that location.   A stipend is available to each volunteer – this is light duty!  Between May 1st and September 30th you would subscribe to receive a daily EnviroFlash email.  You only need to change from green to a different color flag whenever the air quality changes.  You would also store the other two banners until needed.  Please get in touch if you are interested by calling 617-474-1478 or by email, thank you!

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EPA Strengthens Air Quality Standard for Nitrogen Dioxide

Posted January 25th, 2010 by rfoley and filed in Healthy Dorchester, News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2010

EPA Strengthens Air Quality Standard for Nitrogen Dioxide
First new NO2 standard in 35 years will improve air quality for millions

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a new national air quality standard for nitrogen dioxide (NO2). This new one-hour standard will protect millions of Americans from peak short-term exposures, which primarily occur near major roads. Short-term exposures to NO2 have been linked to impaired lung function and increased respiratory infections, especially in people with asthma.

“This new one-hour standard is designed to protect the air we breathe and reduce health threats for millions of Americans. For the first time ever, we are working to prevent short-term exposures in high risk NO2 zones like urban communities and areas near roadways,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Improving air quality is a top priority for this EPA. We’re moving into the clean, sustainable economy of the 21st century, defined by expanded innovation, stronger pollution standards and healthier communities.” Continue Reading »

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Tide Turning in Bike Cage Push

Posted December 22nd, 2009 by admin and filed in Advocacy

December is bike cage month in DotBike land, as DEHC’s Pete Stidman and DotBike’s Vivian Girard have been gathering support for a bike cage at the JFK/UMass station near Columbia Point. The MBTA is building six to 10 bike cages within their transit and commuter rail system as part of a $4.8 million chunk of stimulus money specifically targeted to improving bike parking.

DEHC used the Freedom of Information Act to acquire a list of all the stations the T is considering for the new cages, as well as 50 bike shelters they intend to build. What we discovered is a strange bias toward suburban stations, and the likelihood that there would not be a bike cage in Dorchester, where bike theft is the number one deterrent to cycling!

As it turned out, the proximity of other stations worked against Dorchester and other urban neighborhoods in the T’s assessment of need for bike cages. They didn’t prioritize the positive effect on bike-ability neighborhood density has, nor the fact that cyclists might avoid other nearby stations due to theft risk. And most surprising-they didn’t compare or even look at rates of bike theft for any station! Continue Reading »

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