For years the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has listed both Lehigh and Northampton counties among the worst in the U.S. for air quality, and one of the worst pollutants comes from Diesel engines:
- Both counties are among the worst 2 percent in the U.S., with lifetime risk from Diesel soot exceeding all other air toxins combined.
- Diesel pollution is a known trigger for asthma and other respiratory diseases, and the Bethlehem Partnership for a Healthy Community reports that childhood asthma is almost three times the national average—and even worse in some areas.
- In December 2008, the EPA listed both counties in violation of clean air standards for Diesel pollution. Both counties are also in violation for ground-level ozone, another trigger for asthma.
- A 2005 report listed this area as the 14th worst metropolitan area in the entire country for asthma.
Thousands of our children suffer from asthma attacks because we have not stopped this preventable pollution. To protect them, we need to require fine particulate filters on diesel vehicles and establish anti-idling standards that cover stops of one minute or more, as other communities have done.
In 2008, the state Legislature passed an anti-idling law (Act 124) with the support of local senators and representatives. This law sets a weak standard and prohibits local communities from setting more effective limits. In effect, this law shields polluters and stops us from protecting children!