Planning Board Meeting
Re: Propose Bus Garage on Southbay Road
September 4, 2019
Most people here are concerned about the negative impact of this bus garage on the traffic in the town and the general quality of life, as am I. However, as a property owner who lives relatively close to the garage and within the fallout area of the diesel emissions, I am also concerned with the health impact on the people residing in reasonable proximity to this proposed facility.
Diesel exhaust is a complex mixture of thousands of gases and fine particles that contains more than 40 toxic air contaminants. These include many known or suspected cancer-causing substances, including benzene, arsenic, nickel, formaldehyde, and nitrogen oxides. Diesel exhaust fine particles and gases are suspended in the air, so exposure to this pollutant occurs whenever a person breathes air that contains these substances. Long-term exposure to diesel exhaust particles poses the highest cancer risk of any toxic air contaminant evaluated by OEHHA.
Acute effects of diesel exhaust exposure include irritation of the nose and eyes, lung function changes, respiratory changes, headache, fatigue and nausea. Chronic exposures are associated with cough, sputum production and lung function decrements. In addition to symptoms, exposure studies in healthy humans have documented a number of profound inflammatory changes in the airways, notably, before changes in pulmonary function can be detected.
The elderly and people with emphysema, asthma, and chronic heart and lung disease are especially sensitive to fine-particle pollution. Numerous studies have linked elevated particle levels in the air to increased hospital admissions, emergency room visits, asthma attacks and premature deaths among those suffering from respiratory problems. Because children’s lungs and respiratory systems are still developing, they are also more susceptible than healthy adults to fine particles. Exposure to fine particles is associated with increased frequency of childhood illnesses and can also reduce lung function in children.
In addition to the fumes, I also am concerned with the snow melt runoff that will be generated at this site. The snow storage area is indicated on the proposed site plan at the back of the site. The melt-off from this site will run into Mud Creek. My neighborhood’s drainage is slightly upstream from where this melt-off will drain. We are already experiencing problems with drainage and flooding due to beaver dams. The town currently does not employ animal control personnel, and everytime the beaver builds a dam that blocks the drainage, we must complete and file drainage complaint forms, and then wait for the town to contract to an animal control contractor to try to find the beaver and remove the dam so that water will drain from our properties. Any additional water adding to the existing flow will make our issues worse.
This garage is proposed for a neighborhood where there are small children and elderly people residing. It could take years for the long-term health effects of the decision being made here to be seen. I also expect to see an exacerbation of existing flooding issues. This is your legacy to your community. Vote no for the bus garage.