Stop Harmful Diesel Pollution

Target: Gina McCarthy, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator

Goal: Create a plan to stop diesel pollution, which has been linked to cancer and lung disease.

Diesel pollution is highly toxic and is harming the health of thousands of people who live in areas where the fumes are especially prevalent. Environmental activists have called these areas “diesel death zones” because of how hazardous they are. These communities are near establishments that have high concentrations of diesel pollution, such as freight facilities, ports, railways and highways. These fumes are causing severe health problems, and there must be an effort to limit them.

The Moving Forward Network, an organization composed of of more than 40 local and national environmental organizations, recently urged the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create a special committee to help curb pollution from freight facilities and enforce zero-emission technology for heavy duty trucks. The particles in emissions from diesel trucks, boats, and trains causes lung disease and worsens preexisting conditions of asthma and bronchitis. It has led to thousands of premature deaths over the past few years.

Studies have also shown that the vast majority of the areas affected by diesel pollution are poor and minority communities. Leticia DeCaigny, a community coordinator at the Diesel Health Project in Kansas City, lost her 8-year-old son to brain cancer in 2007, which she fears was related to the rail yard in the area. She said she has discussed ways to reduce pollution with rail yard management, to no avail. There must be a greater effort to stop diesel pollution. We demand that a plan is created to stop these deadly fumes from harming communities around the country.


Dear Administrator McCarthy,

The toxins in diesel fumes are hurting thousands of people, particularly minorities who live in low income neighborhoods near ports and freight facilities. The health problems that are inflicted by these diesel fumes are often permanent, and lead to an extremely strenuous, low quality of life.

In the past, when action has been taken against diesel fumes, there have been positive results. In 2013, the Port of Los Angeles enacted the Clean Truck Program to control diesel pollution related to cancer and other respiratory problems caused by trucks, cars, and ships. The program saw truck emissions go down by 80 percent, and the health of the surrounding low income community improved.

The health hazards in toxic diesel pollution are well documented. However, only recently have we discovered just how harmful they are to the low income communities that are located where the fumes are especially prevalent. This diesel pollution is life-threatening, and something must be done to limit future damage. We demand that the EPA creates an effective plan to limit this dangerous pollution.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Sergeev Pavel

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  1. At this time there is no replacement for diesel engines. Call me again when we develop one.

  2. S.A.Robinson says:

    Biodiesel is a viable alternative fuel for all diesel motors, but firstly, upgrading existing old style diesel trucks engines to modern standards will help a great deal.

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