Chicago Mothers Speak Up for Cleaner Air: Add Your Name to the Petition

December 08, 2010

Today we have a guest blog from Jonathan Doster, organizer with Citizen Action/Illinois. Thanks to Jonathan for sharing information about this important campaign!

Diesel pollution is a serious public health issue. The exhaust from bulldozers, trucks, and other engines contains over 40 toxic air contaminants, carcinogens, ozone-forming elements, and fine particulate matter (“soot”). Exposure to fine particles is known to cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, lung cancer, strokes, and even premature death.

In Metropolitan Chicago alone, it's estimated that diesel fine particles cause 755 deaths (65 from cancer), 1,021 heart attacks, 476 cases of chronic bronchitis, and over 17,000 asthma-attacks annually.

 Now, mothers from across Chicago are taking a stand against the health risks of diesel pollution with the Mothers for Cleaner Air petition. Women from Austin to Little Village to East Chicago to Lakeview have already stood up for clean air. You can add your name to the petition here.

Why are Chicago mothers concerned?
While diesel exhaust is unhealthy for everyone, children are particularly vulnerable to diesel pollution, because their lungs are still developing and because children breathe 50 percent more air per pound of body weight than adults do.

Also, the effects of diesel pollution are particularly harmful for people who have lung disease, such as children with asthma. Asthma is the number one cause of missed school days due to a chronic illness among children.  As such, exposure to diesel exhaust has been identified as a major environmental health risk for children.

It's not only young people who are affected. A recent German study analyzed data from 1,775 women, all near 55 years old and healthy when they entered the study. What they found is that, all other things being equal, the more pollution a woman encountered, the greater was her chance of developing diabetes.

What can be done?
Cleaning up construction equipment emissions is a vital strategy to protect children and adults alike from harmful exhaust exhaust. Construction equipment is a major source of diesel pollution; nationally, over 2 million pieces of construction equipment are in use and most lack any pollution controls.

Both cleaner diesel fuel and pollution control technologies are available right now. Commercial emission controls called diesel particulate filters (DPFs) combined with the use of widely available ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD) can eliminate over 90 percent of fine particles from a heavy-duty truck or piece of construction equipment.

How do we do this?
The Chicago Clean Construction Ordinance would require all City of Chicago contractors working on public construction projects with budgets of $2 million or more to use this ultra low sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD) and pollution controls on their diesel vehicles and equipment.

What can you do right now?
Mothers from across Chicago are urging the city to enact this clean construction ordinance by signing our Mothers for Cleaner Air petition. Please take 30 seconds to sign on and share with all of the mothers you know. It will make the world of difference.