CleanAirNow partners with KCK Housing Authority and others to mitigate air pollution in KCK

Volunteers planting trees between I-670 and a St. Margaret’s playground.

Earlier this year, CleanAirNow, working in partnership with the Kansas City, Kansas Housing Authority, Historic Northeast-Midtown Association, Children’s Mercy Hospital Center for Environmental Health, Kansas Air Protectors, and the Kanza Group of the Kansas Sierra Club monitored air pollution and found high diesel exhaust levels at St. Margaret’s Apartments, which are immediately adjacent to where I-670 and I-70 meet.

Diesel exhaust is a known carcinogen, and exposure can also cause cardiovascular and respiratory problems. Diesel exhaust has been linked to (but not conclusively proven to cause) many other health problems, including low birth weight and a wide variety of neurological and other health problems in children and adults.

As can be seen here, some apartment units are less than 100 feet from the highway.

To lessen the pollution residents are exposed to, we made both short and long term recommendations to the KCK Housing Authority. To lessen indoor exposure, we recommended upgrading to furnace filters that we hope will remove more air pollution from inside the apartments than standard air filters.  As a long-term solution that will ultimately reduce both outdoor and indoor air pollution, we recomemended that trees be planted to provide a natural barrier to absorb some of the air pollution.  

We worked with the Sierra Club, the Children’s Mercy Hospital Center for Environmental Health and the KCK Housing authority to determine how best to install and test improved furnace filters, and reached out to Bridging the Gap to partner with us and lead the tree planting effort. 

Everything came together last week, when members from the partner organizations and St. Margaret’s community members came together to plant trees,  It was a productive and fun day, with everyone working together to plant the trees, which will increase in effectiveness as they grow.

Testing of the new air filters has been completed, with filters and air pollution monitors located in four apartments and outside. Data analysis is underway.

Thanks to everyone who made this excellent community happen! Please check out the images below.

With special thanks to the Shumaker Family Foundation and Kansas Sierra Club and their generous funding of this work.