East Lubbock Community Alliance begins testing air quality affected by industrial zoning

East Lubbock Alliance testing air quality

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The East Lubbock Community Alliance is in the process of powering up the first of several air quality monitors set to see if industrial zoning concentrated in North and East Lubbock has any negative impact on residents.

“We just want to get the facts on if that’s causing health effects,” ELCA Facilitator AJ McCleod said. “Is it bad air quality or is it any different than any other part of the city of Lubbock?”

McCleod tells KCBD the quest for data began after the PlanLubbock 2040 Comprehensive Plan showed future land use with more industrial zones in the same parts of town.

“It has been kind of exactly the same even through desegregation and even through way back in the day when minorities were placed specifically in certain areas and then that industry was put around them,” McCleod said. “We want to see if those effects are still happening right now.”

The first of several Purple Air Monitors was installed at the Carver Early Learning Center on March 9 to track particulate matter after concerns were shared about cotton particles cleaned frequently from the center’s air vents. McCleod said Texas Tech Environmental Toxicology researchers will help place others throughout Lubbock to gather a balanced dataset.

East Lubbock Community Alliance installs Purple Air Monitor at Carver Early Learning Center (Source: KCBD)
East Lubbock Community Alliance installs Purple Air Monitor at Carver Early Learning Center (Source: KCBD)

“We’re also taking surveys in the community to see if they see any effects,” McCleod said. “We just want to get the information correctly. We don’t want it to be biased or anybody saying this is something we have in our head. We want it to be the facts. We don’t want it to be he said, she said, but based on the numbers and the facts of what’s happening. That way in the future we can make change and we can make progress."

Other chemical monitors are also set be used in this research. The Alliance is working to gather EPA grants to help fund the initiative, which has been started by an anonymous community donor.

The EPA shows 16 sites in Lubbock that are part of its Toxics Release Inventory. The latest inventory shows that most chemicals from those sites are released into the air and contain mostly n-Hexane. According to the CDC, it could be harmful, especially to the nervous system.

City leaders, upon approval of PlanLubbock 2040, told concerned North and East Lubbock residents that the plan would address the health and safety of citizens around industrial sites. They said the plan would also evolve as needed.

“I hope they do something to say that they care about all citizens and not just a particular part or people who live in a certain area or don’t live in a certain area,” McCleod said. “That’s the real effect that I hope we have in the future.”

The ELCA is working to get the Purple Air Monitor online. To track it, click here.

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