Citizen Scientists Help Residents Breathe Healthier Air in Newark, New Jersey
NARRATOR: THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO MAKE YOUR COMMUNITY A HEALTHIER PLACE TO LIVE. ONE WAY
IS THROUGH CITIZEN SCIENCE. RESIDENTS AND COMMUNITY GROUPS COLLECT DATA TO BETTER UNDERSTAND
THEIR LOCAL ENVIRONMENT AND ADDRESS ISSUES OF CONCERN. THE U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
AGENCY OFTEN COLLABORATES WITH THESE CITIZEN SCIENTISTS TO REDUCE POLLUTION. THE NEW JERSEY
ENVIRONMENTAL FEDERATION FOCUSED ON AREAS WHERE CHILDREN PLAY AND THE AMOUNT OF POLLUTION
THEY'RE EXPOSED TO IN THE NEWARK AREA.
Kim Gaddy: What we did as a part of our project, the Kids Clean Air Zone, is we actually counted
the amount of trucks that traveled through three to four different locations in the city
of Newark. The main goal of the study was to bring exposure to the fact that -- in the
city of Newark and most urban communities, one out of four children are asthmatic. And
unfortunately, when you live in these kinds of communities where you have 7,000 trucks
that come throughout our port. We are adjacent to the third largest port, only second to
the two in California. And so our goal was to monitor the amount of truck traffic that
was going through the community to see the levels of PM2.5, the ultra fine particulates
that impact asthma and cancers that impact residents of the city of Newark.
NARRATOR: STUDENTS FROM WEEQUAHIC HIGH SCHOOL, BARRINGER HIGH SCHOOL AND THE IRONBOUND COMMUNITY
CORPORATION USED HAND HELD MONITORS TO TEST THE AIR QUALITY IN THE SELECTED AREAS.
Kim Gaddy: We found that by tracking the amount of pollution that came out of the tailpipes,
we could see how the level of soot and particulate matter was very high. And that that impact
would in fact harm the residents of the City of Newark and more particular anyone who has
a compromised immune system. And so we labeled it a Kids Clean Air Zones because why would
you have a baseball field that 400 trucks come throughout the community within three
to four minutes. Or why would you have a swimming pool where 300 to 500 trucks come on both
sides. So we found that this way to monitor the particulate matter would allow us to then
have meetings with the elected officials in our city, our county officials and to get
an actual ordinance passed by the Newark Municipal Council.
One of the reasons that I wanted to involve students, is as a mother of three, all three
of my children are asthmatic. And I am asthmatic. I wanted students in the Newark district,
to really feel and see what is harming them. So that they, while they are out recreating
and playing, they can be conscious now of what protections should they look for. And also
so that they can be their best advocate when they go to a school board meeting or talk
to elected officials of the City of Newark to say, you know, 'I have asthma. I can't
play in an area where 400 to 500 trucks travel on a daily basis. That is not good for my
health.' And so the students tell the story that needs to be told.
NARRATION: EPA IS COMMITTED TO REDUCING PEOPLE'S EXPOSURE TO DIESEL EXHAUST AND CUTTING DIESEL EMISSIONS TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE. AND PROTECT HUMAN HEALTH.
IF YOUR COMMUNITY HAS AN ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERN CONTACT EPA OR YOUR STATE'S DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH OR ENVIRONMENT.