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COLUMBUS, OH – ARRA Construction Sites Overlooking Greener Equipment

July 19, 2010

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Sept. 2, 2009) Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Baldwin, M.D., a Navy undersea medical officer, shows a young patient at Nationwide Children's Hospital how to salute after presenting him with a Navy ball cap. (U.S. Navy photo by Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Gary Ward/Released)

While President Obama and local community leaders celebrate a major new road project next to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, an environmental group is charging that government leaders are missing a golden opportunity to help protect public health by failing to require the use of low-emission, green construction equipment at the construction site.

Ironically, the President’s visit today coincides with central Ohio’s first official bad air day of the summer because of dangerous levels of ozone smog.

“While America rebuilds its infrastructure, we should be putting clean construction equipment to work,” said David R. Celebrezze, Director of Air & Water Special Projects for the Ohio Environmental Council.

“It does not make sense to use public dollars on projects that could needlessly result in dirtier air, especially on a construction sight right next to a children’s hospital. Diesel emission controls on construction equipment are available and should be pressed into service—now.”

Energy power plant releasing air pollutants at sunset along the shores of Lake Erie. photo: Joshua B. Pribanic

Emission controls include diesel particulate filters, which reduce pollution by up to 90%. Other controls can cut pollution by 20% and anti-idling technologies can eliminate unnecessary idling. These technologies are being used by school buses fleets and city fleets, but are mostly absent from construction equipment. Clean construction requirements are essential for healthy air.

According to the USEPA, diesel exhaust contains harmful pollutants, such as particulate matter (soot), nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and m ore than 40 air toxins, including benzene, a known carcinogen. The EPA has linked diesel emissions to a host of health ailments including asthma attacks, painful breathing, cancer, and preventable deaths.

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