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CB 10 asks state to look into smog

With traffic conditions worsening along I-95, Community Board 10 is asking the state to look into smog in Throggs Neck.

According to Community Board 10 district manager Ken Kearns, the board recently asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation to put up air quality monitoring devices along the I-95 corridor from East Tremont Avenue up to Co-op City.

But as of Monday, the state had not given the board an answer.

“We feel the quality of the air is being damaged by the highways,” Kearns said. “It’s been a concern for a while, but we’re re-articulating our concern and the need for testing, because we keep seeing traffic jams on I-95 and we’re constantly breathing in all of that air.”

The highway is one of the most important truck routes on the eastern seaboard and one of the most widely traveled highways in the country.

With about four miles of the interstate winding through Throggs Neck, the increasing number of bumper-to-bumper traffic jams led the community board to action. Although there have been some concerned residents in the area, Kearns said writing the letter was primarily a board initiative.

“We’re hoping with the testing they can find some empirical data to see what’s going on with the air we are breathing daily,” he said. “Then hopefully we can use that and work with other agencies, like the Port Authority, to change their shipping routes.”

State DEC officials did not return phone calls about the likelihood of testing in the area, or air-quality information about Throggs Neck.

However, according to the 2010 State of the Air report released by the American Lung Association in April, Bronx County has some of the dirtiest air in the state.

The county received failing grades for having high levels of ozone and particulate matter, both of which are increased by car exhaust.

According to the report, the borough had one “code red” day, and 16 “code orange” days in 2009.

In 2008 the borough had the highest level of particulate pollution in the state, with 31 “code orange” days — doubling the next closest county.

For Pelham Bay Taxpayers Association vice president Anita Valenti, who lives between I-95 and the Hutchinson River Parkway, air quality has become a major concern for her and her neighbors.

“For months every single day around 4 p.m. there’s a traffic jam,” she said. “It’s just stand-still traffic and I think to myself, ‘Oh god. This can’t be healthy.’ I’m very glad they are looking into this.”

Kearns said he hopes the state DEC will put monitoring devices not only along I-95, but all around the district because it is cross-hatched by three major highways.

“The air-quality has gotten much, much worse,” he said. “For proof just go stand on East Tremont and look at I-95 traffic on a Friday afternoon.”

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