Big things are happening at the Diesel Health Project!

Lots is going on with the Diesel Health Project – Check out today’s press release to learn more!

Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee – Diesel Health Project – Global Community Monitor – Kansas Sierra Club

Media Advisory

For Immediate Release May 1, 2015

Diesel Exhaust Air Pollution Testing Consortium Applauds Village Green Real Time Air Quality Monitoring

Pushes for Improvements to Monitor Diesel Exhaust Air Pollution

Press Event and Interview Opportunity

EPA and KDHE are sponsoring the Village Green Kansas Press Event and All Things Air – Community Fair at the Argentine Public Library on Saturday, May 2, from 10:30 to 1:30.  They will hold a Press Event at 10 am.  The Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee and  Diesel Health Project will staff an event table, and be available for interviews.

(Argentine/Turner KS)  A consortium of local, regional and national groups working to monitor and reduce dangerous diesel exhaust air pollution from rail yards and transportation hubs has released preliminary results of their air quality monitoring in Argentine and Turner, which found dangerous levels of diesel exhaust pollution at locations near the BNSF Argentine Rail Yard.

The groups have initiated discussions with the BNSF Railway, and are working in partnership with EPA Region 7 to find ways to resolve the problems.

In support of our work, EPA and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment selected the Argentine Public Library in Kansas City, Kansas as one of a handful of sites in the country for testing the innovative Village Green Project park bench monitoring stations in the country.

The Village Green Project park bench monitoring station provides real time data on fine particles and ozone, both very dangerous to human health, as well as meteorological data, all publicly available online at the Village Green Project Web Site.

Acknowledging the need for additional steps, EPA has committed to building a stronger partnership with the Argentine community, working with the community to further enhance understanding and awareness of air quality through outreach and training, and at our request, exploring options for monitoring diesel soot (black carbon) and ultrafine particles, something not now done by the Village Green park bench monitoring station.

Yesterday, EPA  also notified us, announced that they are sending two members of our team to Community Air Monitoring training this summer.

We applaud EPA Region 7, the EPA Office of Research and Development, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for the focus they are placing on the Argentine community.

A black carbon monitor would alert the public to the presence of diesel exhaust, which is known to cause cancer and trigger asthma attacks, and has been linked to many other serious health problems, including asthma, autism, birth defects, brain damage, decreased intelligence in children, dementia, heart attacks, hyperactivity, heightened anxiety, preterm birth and low birth weight, premature death, respiratory disease, strokes, suicide, and underdeveloped lungs.

“We know that from more than a year of our own community testing of local air for fine particles such as fine particulate matter and diesel soot at the same locations that just testing for fine particulate matter, as the Village Green does, won’t  reveal the presence of ultra-fine diesel soot,” stated Leticia DeCaigny, leader of the Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee and community organizer for the Diesel Health Project.

Overview of Air Quality Monitoring by the Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee

The 14 month long study was completed in January 2015.  The air quality data consists of 66 air samples (excluding three field blanks), collected over a period of slightly more than a year – from November 2, 2013, to January 19, 2015.   Nineteen (19) of the 66 samples were analyzed for very fine particulate matter (PM2.5) by gravimetric analysis.  The remaining forty-seven (47) samples were analyzed for organic carbon (OC), elemental carbon (EC) and total carbon (TC) content by X-ray fluorescence (XRF).

 The groups released the following conclusions based on their air testing:

Preliminary Conclusions and Recommendations

  1. The BNSF locomotive maintenance shop is the most important source of emissions in the yard, and its operation is ongoing;
  2. Residents within 300 meters of the BNSF Argentine Rail Yard, and those downwind of the locomotive maintenance shop are at most risk of exposure to dangerous levels of diesel exhaust;
  3. Exposure appears to increase during periods of calm and very light winds regardless of wind direction, though this effect is difficult to distinguish from that of close proximity.
  4. Community Air testing for ultrafine diesel soot in Argentine/Turner should continue, in order to monitor community health risks from the BNSF Argentine Rail Yard and other sources.
  5. We request KDHE and EPA to monitor for diesel exhaust on a regular basis and share the data in an open and transparent manner as they recently did in the Chicago area.

We plan to issue our final report in mid-June 2015.


The Diesel Health Project was formed in 2013 by Richard Mabion, long-time Kansas City Kansas resident and community activist, and Eric Kirkendall of Lawrence, Kansas with the mission of “protecting the health of the community by identifying and documenting environmental and health problems caused by freight transportation in the Kansas City region, particularly Diesel Exhaust and other pollutants emitted by freight transportation, warehousing, and related activities, and taking action to ensure that the problems are mitigated as early and effectively as possible.”

Leticia DeCaigny, lifelong Argentine resident and community organizer, worked with her neighbors to form the Argentine/Turner Good Neighbor Committee, and led the monitoring.

The international organization Global Community Monitor (GCM) partnered with the local groups, and with the financial support of the Kresge Foundation provided technical, training and much other assistance.

The purpose of the Argentine/Turner monitoring project is determine how much dangerous diesel exhaust residents near the BNSF Argentine Rail Yard, the second largest in the nation, are exposed to.  The communities of Argentine and Turner are located immediately adjacent to the BNSF Argentine Rail Yard, and the locomotive maintenance shop, at which many locomotives are parked and running for hours on end, upwind of residents’ homes.

GCM staff held a four hour orientation and hands-on training class on November 2, 2013 in Turner with homeowners concerned about air quality.  The training consisted of hands on use of the Airmetrics MiniVol Portable Air Sampler, Quality Assurance/Quality Control training, Chain of Custody and Field Log sheet use, and proper siting of the monitor.

31 twenty-four hour air samples were taken between November 2, 2013 and June 17, 2014.  16 EC/OC tests and 15 PM 2.5 tests were conducted at a total of 15 sites.  Each sample site was sampled for both EC/OC or PM 2.5 on back-to-back days for 24 hour runs.  The Global Community Monitor issued a Preliminary Report on July 16, 2014.

GCM hired a third party expert, Mark Chernaik of Science for Citizens, to calculate the concentrations and provide expert interpretation (see attached letter and spreadsheet).  Mr. Chernaik’s summary analysis states:

“Overall, seven of sixteen EC levels in filtered air samples collected since the beginning of the project in November 2013 are above a level associated with a short-term health risk. Notably, the seven filtered air samples with EC levels associated with a short-term health risk are generally closer (within 200 meters) to the Santa Fe railway facility than samples with lower EC levels, which were generally further (more than 1000 meters) from the Santa Fe railway facility.”

The presence of diesel soot is typically indicated by measuring a surrogate or marker substance called elemental carbon, EC, or organic carbon, OC.