Author: Taylor Wilmot ’13
Two real estate development partners are proposing a plan for an immense tractor-trailer parking lot in Carlisle that is sure to exacerbate the already present air pollution problem. Diesel engines are a large contributor to the air pollution in Carlisle, and the new motor freight terminal would create enough parking spaces for 300 tractor tailors. The Clean Air Board (CAB) states that Carlisle already has over 1,300 truck parking spaces and if this terminal is built, hundreds, even thousands of additional trucks will pass through Carlisle on a daily basis.
So why add more parking spaces? It just so happens that Carlisle has a very special location. According to CAB, Carlisle is within a day’s drive of 60% of America’s population. Due to this prime location, the trucking industry depends on Carlisle as a midpoint. Although this does provide some economic benefits, it also creates health risks for the residents of Carlisle and the Dickinson community.
This year Cumberland County received an F from the American Lung Association and made the list of the top 25 most polluted counties in America. The air issue is serious and the plan to build another motor freight terminal less than 2 miles from campus will increase the particulate pollution we breathe in with each gulp of Carlisle air.
Since arriving on campus, students will have already felt the effects of the polluted air. The lungs, throat, and nose prevent bigger particles from going into the body, but particulate pollution enters our bodies due to its small size (PM2.5 or roughly one thirtieth the size of a human hair). This particulate pollution, which is abundant in Carlisle, travels down to the base of the lungs and enters the bloodstream. The American Lung Association states that short-term exposure to this particulate matter aggravates asthma and irritates the eyes and throat. Long-term exposure can lead to cancer and heart disease.
Community organizations composed mostly of volunteers, such as the Clean Air Board, are working to decrease the pollution input. Many projects are already underway, such as the road diet in Carlisle to decrease the lanes of Hannover and High streets. Building a motor freight terminal will counteract the progress that the community is making towards a better air quality, as well as other issues such as traffic congestion.
Dickinson students should not have to breathe in the 2% most polluted air for fine particulate pollution in the nation for the next 4 years of their lives. CAB has community meetings in Carlisle on the first Thursday of every month for anyone that wants to get involved. Learn more about what CAB is doing at www.cleanairboard.org and to get an hourly reading of PM2.5 and other data visit www.cumberlandlink.com.