New study examines high asthma rates in Dorchester

December 5, 2008

Did you know that asthma is more prevalent in New England then anywhere else in the country? Or that African Americans who were born in the U.S. are three times more likely to develop asthma then African Americans born outside the country?

Exhaust from diesel trucks contribute to the air pollution in Dudley Square

A 2005 study of asthma rates in Dorchester published in the Journal of Asthma last month discovered these statistics and showed a strong correlation between asthma and environmental factors in children. This shows what we have long known, that the disproportionate share of environmental burdens in neighborhoods of color like Dorchester and Roxbury adversely affect the well-being of residents. ACE Board Member Neal-Dra Osgood worked on this groundbreaking research, surveying Dorchester residents to compile asthma information. Check out the Globe article to learn more.

The lack of open space, trees, pedestrian-friendly zones and high levels of air pollution all take their toll on our communities. REEP youth have campaigned against these health hazards, most recently working to eliminate sources of diesel exhaust, from school buses to pushing for new retrofitting legislation.

In 1999, our youth found more than 15 truck and bus depots garaging over 1,150 diesel vehicles within a one-mile radius of our office in Dudley Square. This led to us helping to start AirBeat, the first air monitoring station in the state that produces real-time data accessible to the public. The website and hotline allows residents with asthma to check on Roxbury pollution levels and determine safe times to conduct activities.

Thanks to the continued work by our youth, members, and the support of people like you, we've been able to make significant changes in the local air quality, such as transitioning the entire MBTA bus fleet from diesel to cleaner fuel alternatives. In this holiday season, we reflect on the positive changes we've been able to make through the years, and send our deepest thanks to you, the people who help to make this work possible. Have a great weekend!