Neighbors say Peace Bridge is making them sick

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Many people who live near the Peace Bridge say the air they breathe is unsafe because of trucks idling at the busy border crossing.

A study will be conducted over the next year by the State Department of Environmental Conservation to figure out if there are health concerns from the traffic on the Peace Bridge. Neighbors say they don’t need the study to know that living near the bridge is making them sick.

“We have a right to breathe clean air, that’s what the community wants,” said neighbor Kathy Mecca.

The DEC is a month into the study looking at the air quality near the bridge. Data is being collected at two sites, one right at the bridge and another at the old Grover Cleveland High School, to see if the air is a threat to public health.

“The emission profiles change seasonally and the way they interact in the atmosphere are different in the summer and winter,” said DEC scientist Kirk Felton.

Mecca says information from the Environmental Protection Agency makes it clear that disease is more prevalent in the surrounding community.

“We know based on the EPA that we have a very high incidence of cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, neurological disorders, cardiovascular diseases, heart attack and stroke,” she said.

Mecca said her whole family has severe asthma. She’s also had cancer.

“On my street I’m one of 10 women with breast cancer. I’m in remission and I’m only one of three survivors.”

But these neighbors didn’t want the DEC scientists to hear their complaints, rather elected officials, who were noticeably absent.

“There’s a spectacular lack of political leadership in our city when it comes to environmental quality,” said one resident.

“Have the courage to stand up and place the health of people over special interests,” agreed Mecca.

Many neighbors fear things will never change.

“I’m cynical, I’m telling you. You don’t like it, sell your house and get out because otherwise, yes, we are all canaries in the coal mine,” said another resident.

“We want clean air; we want it now. We want solutions and the only way to achieve that is to move the commercial traffic off of the Peace Bridge,” said Mecca.

Scientists are asking the community to sign up and collect samples to help with the study.

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