City Hall Testimony about Waste Transfer Stations

New York City Council Intro 157 proposes to limit the maximum capacity of NYC’s waste transfer stations. These stations are disproportionally concentrated in impoverished neighborhoods, adding extra burdens to families—extra truck traffic, polluted streets and polluted air. Limiting capacity at the stations is a first step in a larger, coordinated management plan to make NYC more efficient, and equitable, in handling its waste. Dr. Cappy Collins, of the Long Island Children’s Environmental Health Centers, testified in support of the Introduction at New York City Hall on June 19th, 2018.

Transcript as follows:

[Dr. Collins] Good afternoon, thank you for the opportunity to speak before the City Council.

My name is Dr. Cappy Collins, and I am a pediatrician who works with families in East Harlem.

Air quality is a major factor affecting the health of children, especially in communities beset with disproportionate burdens of traffic, poor housing quality and poverty.  And, East Harlem is one of those communities. 

The parents I work with are doing what they can to preserve the health of their children. Asthma is a big problem, with higher rates in East Harlem than almost anywhere in the country. Parents can take care of doctor appointments and keeping up with medications. That’s within their power.

They cannot control the garbage trucks idling on the streets, criss-crossing the streets and barreling up the avenues as they haul thousands of tons of waste per day through their neighborhood, en route to disposal sites in other impoverished neighborhoods in the South Bronx.  

Combustion exhaust, contains hydrocarbons, soot, ozone, and carcinogenic chemicals like benzene and makes asthma worse. I can’t prescribe a medication for this; and families can’t protect themselves from the polluted air they breathe.  We need help. And help is at hand. As a community of New Yorkers, we can make the air better through legislation.

Limiting the maximum capacity at our waste transfer stations is a first step toward clean air. I urge the Council to support Intro 157 and continue building a just city that allows children and families to thrive.

Thank you.

[Councilmember Antonio Reynoso] Thank you. Appreciate your testimony from a pediatrician. Just thinking about the health effects, a lot of people may take it for granted, I just happen to recently have a newborn baby.

[Dr. Collins] Congratulations.

[Mr. Reyes] When I walk outside now, I think about it completely differently. I think about trucks, I cross streets differently…

Interview: State’s Responsibility in Keeping People Healthy from Environmental Factors

Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s dean of global health is urging New York lawmakers to consider the connection between the environment and public health when it comes to allocating resources. Dr. Philip Landrigan is an expert on environmental threats to children’s health. He joined us to talk more about the role the state can play in keeping kids healthy. Click here for interview.

landrigan-interview

Finger Lakes Children’s Environmental Health Center

Environmental health hazards include physical hazards and toxic substances that may enter our bodies through air, food, or water. They can have many negative effects on physical, mental, and emotional health. These effects can include:

  • Physical illness
  • Long lasting injury
  • Mental damage
  • Fertility problems
  • Miscarriages
  • Birth defects
  • Cancer

Some environmental health hazards can cause effects soon after exposure, while others may not cause effects for many years. Being aware of these hazards and taking action to avoid them contributes to a lifetime of well-being.

The Finger Lakes Children’s Environmental Health Center (FLCEHC) center serves all who are considering pregnancy or who are already pregnant or breastfeeding. Environmental exposures affect the mother and also can pass from her body to the baby through the placenta or breast milk These exposures can affect the baby’s growth and development. Breastfeeding is beneficial for both mother and baby so reducing exposure to environmental contaminants is important for long term health.

We serve children because they are at high risk for the effects of environmental exposure. Their brains and bodies are still developing, their hand-to-mouth behavior increases likelihood of ingesting toxic substances,and they spend more time close to the ground where hazards are often found. Children can be exposed in the home, playing outside, or in other buildings like daycare or school.