In Midwestern cities like Chicago, we have a lot of diesel-heavy transportation infrastructure. Vehicles like trains, trucks, boats, and construction equipment pollute the air in highways, railyards, ports, intermodal facilities, construction sites, and surrounding communities. Workers, commuters, and residents in areas with high concentrations of diesel pollution are most at risk of exposure, but air pollution knows no boundaries.

Diesel exhaust is a complex mixture composed of thousands of substances, including more than 40 toxic air pollutants. If these microscopic particles become lodged in the lungs, they can pose serious health risks. They can contribute to premature death, cancer, heart disease, neurological problems, and respiratory illness. Diesel engines also emit a form of soot known as “black carbon,” a major contributor to climate change.

Technology exists to reduce diesel pollution over 90%. Stronger pollution controls would provide jobs in the installation and manufacturing of that technology.

What is ELPC Doing?

  • Air Quality Monitoring – ELPC works with community members, youth, and interns to conduct air monitoring across the city. We then analyze traffic, construction, and infrastructure data. We identify areas of Chicago with higher rates of diesel activity and pollution, creating maps to highlight “hot-spots.” Find data and ways to get involved here.
  • Green transportation advocacy – ELPC drives policies and support for clean cars and public transportation. We can improve mobility with options for travel, while cutting back on climate impact, and reducing diesel pollution.
  • Finding funding for clean alternatives – When news surfaced that Volkswagen was cheating on their diesel vehicle emissions tests, ELPC analyzed the available uses of settlement money. We led the way in making sure funds were carved out for electric school buses in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. The ubiquitous and oft-overlooked school bus is actually a vital mode of transit. It serves more people than all other public transportation combined. Even more importantly, school buses serve a vulnerable population: our kids.

City of Chicago Idling Reduction Ordinance
City of Chicago Clean Construction Ordinance
Study on childhood asthma in Chicago (2014)

ELPC’s Founding Vision is Becoming Today’s Sustainability Reality

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