A recent NYU study found that children in the South Bronx suffer from astronomical asthma rates: in one Hunt’s Point elementary school, one in four children showed symptoms of the respiratory disease. The study attributed the frequency of asthma to the maze of highways and truck routes that traverse the area.
Another likely culprit not mentioned in the study's press release: the seven MTA and privately owned bus depots in the Harlem/South Bronx area. Most of the buses going in and out of these depots run on diesel engines, which emit particulates that are particularly harmful for the lungs. For the past decade, Harlem non-profit WE ACT has been raising awareness about cleaner bus fuels and campaigning against the siting of bus depots in the area. But for all the attention WE ACT and other environmental justice advocates have brought to these issues, it doesn't take a 5-year study to figure out that the problem of unequal distribution of environmental burdens remains.
Adam Brock, Gothamist's mapper-in-residence, is a GIS specialist at the Pratt Center for Community Development, and a Sustainable Design student at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.