Poor neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn are choking on pollution from commercial trash trucks, advocates say in a new report.
The problem was worst in the South Bronx - where researchers counted up to 304 commercial trucks per hour at the busiest intersections.
Nearly half of those trucks, 45%, were commercial waste haulers - meaning one private trash truck passed every 24 seconds, according to the report set to be released Tuesday by the Transform Don’t Trash coalition.
At the most truck-clogged intersections in the area, levels of asthma-causing pollutants known as fine particulate matter were found to be up to seven times higher than the average for the ZIP code overall.
Some three quarters of the city’s garbage is funneled through transfer stations in a handful of neighborhoods in the South Bronx, north Brooklyn, and southeast Queens.
“We really do see a connection between the shocking number of commercial waste trucks on the streets and the terrible air quality in low-income communities,” said Priya Mulgaonkar of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, who wrote the report.
In industrial areas of Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick clustered around Newtown Creek, the groups counted 203 trucks per hour at the busiest intersection, about 30% of them commercial waste trucks.
Pollutant levels were found to be up to five times higher at the busy street corners than the overall area.
In Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, the report also counted up to 243 trucks per hour and pollutant levels five times greater than normal.
The de Blasio administration is preparing to launch a new system where the city will be divided up into zones, and one private company will be chosen to collect trash from businesses in each zone.
The advocates say the city should make sure to design it in a way that will give some relief to the neighborhoods that have dealt with so much of the city’s trash for years.
“This is a really clear opportunity to lessen the burden on these communities that have played host to these toxic facilities and highways for too long,” Mulgaonkar said.
Private sanitation workers also measured pollution inside the cabs of their trucks for the report - and found the asthma-causing pollutants at levels seven times higher than the average outside air along their route.
The city could give preference to companies that plot routes using transfer stations more fairly around the city, or use less polluting trucks and move away from diesel fuel, the group says.
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