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Record #: R2011-419   
Type: Resolution Status: Failed to Pass
Intro date: 4/13/2011 Current Controlling Legislative Body: Committee on Health
Final action: 5/18/2011
Title: Call for hearing(s) on diesel air pollution at Metra train stations
Sponsors: Balcer, James
Topic: COMMITTEE/PUBLIC HEARINGS - Committee on Health
Attachments: 1. R2011-419.pdf
Related files: R2011-691
WHEREAS, In November of 2010, an investigation conducted by the Chicago Tribune found that thousands of Chicago commuters are exposed on a daily basis to high levels of toxic diesel pollution trapped in Chicago's two major rail stations and inside the trains they ride; and
WHEREAS, Using a handheld testing device to measure black carbon, a key ingredient of diesel exhaust commonly known as soot, Chicago Tribune investigators measured the air quality inside commuter trains and on platforms at Chicago's Union Station and Ogilvie Transportation Center, with startling results. Testing showed that commuters at these stations are exposed to high levels of diesel soot in the air; that the amount of soot steadily increases as commuters walk deeper into the rail station; that soot levels are even higher on platforms, where acrid blue clouds of diesel exhaust linger between trains; that the air inside train cars contains levels of diesel soot up to 72 times higher than on the streets outside; and that the level of soot in the air remains high during most train trips away from the City; and
WHEREAS, The United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") considers diesel exhaust to be one of the most dangerous types of air pollution. A complex mix of toxic substances such as benzene, arsenic and formaldehyde, diesel exhaust is filled with fine particles of soot that can lodge deeply in the lungs and penetrate the bloodstream. Breathing even small amounts of soot can inflame the lungs and trigger asthma attacks. Studies have linked exposure to diesel exhaust to a variety of health problems, including cancer, heart attacks, brain damage and premature death; and
WHEREAS, In response to the Chicago Tribune's investigation, Metra formed an Emissions Task Force to investigate the level of diesel emissions at its downtown stations and onboard its locomotive and passenger cars, and to identify ways to improve the air quality there. As part of this initiative, tests were c...

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