Monthly Archives: April 2013

Tour Flyer

Port Richmond and Bridesburg, and the River Wards more generally, have more potential environmental hazards than most other places in the Philadelphia region. From waste transfer stations, to chemical storage, to regular heavy-duty truck traffic, there are plenty of potential sources or air, water, and soil pollution. Local residents, community organizations and Clean Air Council are concerned with the amount of hazards that exist now and the new sources of pollution that may exist in the future. As Philadelphia continues to remake the Delaware waterfront, we are encouraging local policy-makers to consider what this means for the health and well-being of waterfront and port communities like the River Wards. 

And so, the River Wards Environment Tour now has a final date! In just under two weeks, we’ll be meeting at Campbell Square park in Port Richmond to start an in-depth exploration of the local environment. Using the research local residents have done on environmental hazards, the tour will highlight the environmental history of the places we are most frustrated and concerned with. We are also going to highlight the things that make these River Wards neighborhoods the great places they are. From local businesses to open spaces, we’ll point out some of our most loved spots.

We’ll have environmental researchers on hand from Drexel University talk about and answer questions about local pollutants and their sources. Diane Sicotte, an environmental sociologist, will talk about different types of hazards in the area, where they came from, and why they are still here. We’ll also have Pete DeCarlo, an atmospheric scientist, on hand to collect real-time measurements of particulate matter while we move through the neighborhoods. Clean Air Council will provide transportation, and Chris Mizes (that’s me) will be your urban environment tour guide for the afternoon. Looking forward to an exciting tour and remember, if you are a resident or representing an organization and would like to attend please RSVP. Spaces are filling up fast!




Workshop participants use participatory mapping to identify both environmental concerns and neighborhood assets in Port Richmond and Bridesburg.

Clean Air Council has spent the past month working with neighborhood residents in Bridesburg and Port Richmond (two River Wards neighborhoods) to develop a tour of the area’s built environment. We’re mostly concerned with two broad types of places in these neighborhoods: (1) sites that we as residents and advocates see as environmental concerns, and (2) places that local people see as assets to the neighborhood. The purpose of the tour is to highlight some of the issues we see in the area and continue a conversation on how best to address concerns and improve assets.

From the workshops we held in march, we have developed a map of resident toxics research, environmental concern, and neighborhood assets. Putting this all on the map in our workshops helped us visualize exactly where the things are that the community is most concerned with. In the first workshop, we searched through the databases on environmental hazards managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) . We identified a few sites of concern and researched what types of pollutants they either emit or store. In the next workshop, we met to plot out a broader set of concerns and assets: those that are not included in the official databases. This ranges from polish sausage markets to concrete recycling facilities, neither of which are included in the formal databases the E.P.A. manages.


A screen shot of our interactive community mapping project. Click the image to take you to the online map presentation.

Finally, Clean Air staff worked with students in the department of City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania to digitize these maps. We produced a clean, readable interactive map that visualizes the results of our two mapping workshop sessions held in March. Click on this sentence to take you to the map presentation and tutorial we created (use the arrows at the bottom of the screen to navigate through the slides). The next step is for residents of Port Richmond and Bridesburg to use this map to finalize the list for the River Wards Environment Tour that will be held in early May (details to come!). If you live or work in or around either of these neighborhoods, please look through this map and identify 10 assets or concerns that you would like highlighted on the tour. E-mail your submissions to Chris Mizes at cmizes(at)cleanair(dot)org.


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Coarse coke at a materials movement and storage facility. A form of coal used for energy production that releases black carbon when combusted.

From using carbon-dating to place the age of fossils, to speculation on poly-cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons being the elemental foundation of life on earth, humans should have some kind of deep respect for carbon as the basic building block of life. Carbon is the center of our universe, except that it is everywhere and, perhaps, has no center. To the community health team at CAC, though, carbon isn’t exclusively the elemental foundation of existence from which all life emanates. To us, carbon is black: it is a particularly pesky carcinogenic aerosol produced by incomplete fossil fuel combustion. In other words, it is air pollution produced by vehicles that has the potential to cause cancer. As of this January, it also has the potential to make a clear political connection between human health and global climate change. Read More