Healthy People Global Goods
Goods Movement: Public Health Implications for the Mid Atlantic
September 23, 2011
University of Pennsylvania - Houston Hall
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Ports, rail yards, and truck traffic expand to accommodate even greater cargo volumes, they increasingly encroach on their residential neighbors. Residents located near goods movement facilities suffer from elevated levels particulate matter, a pollutant which easily penetrates the lungs and enters the bloodstream, causing a myriad of health problems. According to the 2008 EnergyFutures report “U.S. Container Ports and Air Pollution: A Perfect Storm,” 64,000 premature deaths in port communities are attributable to air pollution. Ports use 1.5 times more fuel than the aviation industry, and air quality in half the port communities violate federal ambient air health standards. Due to increased environmental health research, advocacy for environmental justice issues, and the tightening of ambient air quality standards, goods movement is increasingly viewed as an important public health issue. The health impacts associated with global goods movement include asthma, heart disease, cancers, adverse birth outcomes, and premature death. Pollution-related diseases negatively impact individuals, families, communities, and even health care systems. In addition to health impacts, goods movement also affects quality of life by producing noise pollution, traffic congestion, and visual blight. Voluntary and regulatory air quality measures have been implemented in other parts of the United States. One model that has been proven particularly effective is in Southern California, where academic researchers, community organizations, environmental and public health advocacy groups, industry and labor groups, and legislators collaborated to identify the key issues in their region and change goods movement practices, which resulted in tangible public health benefits. The successes in Southern California are largely due to an increased awareness of goods movement as a public health issue. The increased awareness was achieved, to some extent, through goods movement conferences which brought together the various stakeholders, educated them about the public health issues, and fostered collaborations that resulted in cost-effective solutions that benefitted industry, government, and public health. While some goods movement facilities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have recently implemented air pollution mitigation strategies, they still lag behind their counterparts in terms of implementing cost-effective solutions. Moreover, there is a lack of awareness in this region of what goods movement is and how it impacts health and quality of life. This is in part due to lack of awareness within the public health and environmental advocacy communities.
This training has been submitted to APA for approval of 6.25 AICP CM Credits by the PA Chapter of APA. CM credits are pending.