Communities living in proximity to diesel hotspots — such as ports, rail yards, distribution centers and freight roadways — disproportionately bear the negative health impacts associated with diesel exhaust. They are also usually low-income communities populated by historically marginalized and underrepresented groups.

Exhaust from diesel engines releases harmful air pollutants and other toxic chemicals. Exposure to these toxins can cause detrimental health impacts such as asthma, respiratory inflammation, cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. A comprehensive analysis of diesel emissions is needed to assess these impacts in the Port of Los Angeles — the most productive port in the nation, generating 147,000 jobs and receiving $284 billion in cargo value.

Our research team will develop a method for determining emission exposures and health threats from port activity to members of the local community. Our team will gather data on truck counts, speeds, idling times and other parameters to analyze the potential impact on public health due to emissions exposure to residents near the port. We will use this data to graphically model air pollutant patterns through the AERMOD modeling system. We hope the analysis will provide policymakers with critical information to determine appropriate regulations on diesel-operated engines in the port.

Team: Jennifer Perez, Odalys Barajas, Benjamin Tran, Nadia Colombi, Calvin Ly, Maninder Kaur

Advisor: Karen McKinnon

Client: Natural Resources Defense Council

NRDC is dedicated to environmental justice for people throughout the world using the knowledge and expertise of hundreds of lawyers, scientists, policy advocates, and activists.