Photo credit: Doug Kerr licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, and Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition

With traffic noise recognized as “one of the worst environmental stressors for humans by the World Health Organization, second only to air pollution,” John Hartig, GreatLakesNow, writes that researchers at the University of Michigan evaluating noise impacts of passing trucks on neighborhoods found that people of color and low wealth were “disproportionately exposed’ to environmental pollutants related to truck traffic.

One of the residents, Thomasenia Weston, living in a house in southwest Detroit exposed to road traffic near her home said that no one should have to live with the air, stormwater, and noise pollution. “The air and stormwater pollution and noise …are affecting my sleep and causing me a lot of mental stress,” said Weston. Hers is just one voice amongst many calling for help.

The lead investigator of the University of Michigan study, Dr. Stuart Batterman, is calling for truck routes that will avoid the impacted neighborhoods and promises to “monitor noise levels over the next several years.” Hartig says that we need to become more aware of environmental justice in southwest Detroit and urges support of organizations addressing this injustice. He provides a list of some of the groups fighting for environmental justice in southwest Detroit.

Not all articles writing about harmful effects of air and noise pollution, especially for those living in poorer communities, list organizations that are addressing environmental pollution impacts. This article did and I hope that those reading the article in southwest Detroit will reach out to the organizations cited and offer their help. There have, however, been other articles written about urban areas where poorer communities are more likely exposed to air and noise pollution, and I would hope Hartig’s readers, wherever they live, inquire about organizations in their own communities that are working towards a cleaner, quieter environment for all.