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Massachusetts Tracking Program Helps Keep Norwood Residents Safe from Factory Pollution

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CDC's Tracking Program: Protecting Air Quality in Massachusetts
CDC’s Tracking Program: Protecting Air Quality in Massachusetts

An asphalt plant is proposed in the residential town of Norwood, Massachusetts

 

As director of the city health department in Norwood, Massachusetts, Sigalle Reiss is the first person that residents call with their health concerns. Facing the prospect of a new asphalt plant in the residential community, local citizens flooded her office with questions about potential health effects. Their concerns held weight. Asphalt production releases a number of harmful pollutants, some of which are known to cause cancer. The pollutants can also aggravate respiratory conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Knowing these dangers, Reiss realized that she had a possible public health issue on her hands.

Tracking Network Used to Find Data for Public Health Concerns

 

Working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Reiss researched health conditions that might be affected by the asphalt plant. Using the Massachusetts Tracking Network, the Department of Public Health reviewed data for the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to and potentially affected by the proposed plant. Reiss looked at asthma rates for children in Norwood as well as the number of people hospitalized for asthma and other respiratory health problems. Data showed that Norwood residents had a higher-than-average hospitalization rate for respiratory conditions. Reiss used the data to show that the asphalt plant’s environmental output needed to be adjusted to protect residents’ health.

Asphalt Plant Agrees to Procedures that Will Reduce Pollution

 

After Reiss delivered a formal recommendation, the permit board suspended the asphalt plant’s building permit. Using tracking network data to guide the process, the community worked with the asphalt plant to put in place building regulations and standard operating procedures that dramatically reduced the amount of harmful pollutants released from the plant.

Thanks to the Tracking Network’s easy-to-access data, the Town of Norwood was better able to conduct community planning, make sensible environmental regulations, and prevent a serious public health problem. Reiss believes it is vital to have a resource like the tracking network. “The Tracking Network is important because it provides statistics and evidence,” she said. “It’s vital to have data and tracking program input into a decision like this.”

Massachusetts Tracking Network video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BVydjpKRH8

Massachusetts Tracking Network website: http://matracking.ehs.state.ma.us/

 

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