Bridgette Murray, a retired nurse who lives in Houston's historically Black Pleasantville community, serves on Port Houston's community advisory group, reports the Houston Chronicle's Emily Foxhall.
"When she began to see changes in her own health, she started to wonder about the effects of pollutants," writes Foxhall, leading to the community-led installation of a network of air monitors.
Now, as Port Houston begins a yearslong project to deepen and widen the Ship Channel, Murray is "pushing for better policies." The project, writes Foxhall, "requires diesel-burning dredges, which will release two types of pollutants. One is nitrogen oxides, which can combine with other compounds in the air to form ozone. The second is small particulate matter, which can harm hearts and lungs."
Though the port maintains that air quality will improve over time, "there’s no getting around the fact that emissions will increase with this work," says Kenneth Adler, a senior contributing scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund.
Residents like Murray in Ship Channel communities like Pleasantville, says EDF's Ellu Nasser, are "paying for the project with their health."
Murray, writes Foxhall, "hopes the port and [the Army Corps of Engineers] will keep the community informed and follow through with mitigating the pollution."
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