Every year, diesel-powered vehicles and heavy equipment emit thousands of tons of pollution in Illinois. These vehicles and pieces of equipment are usually operated at street level, emitting concentrated air pollution precisely where people breathe. Diesel pollution is harmful to human health, contributing to asthma episodes, heart attacks, lung cancer, stroke and, in extreme cases, premature death.
Simple, effective solutions are available to make diesel engines much cleaner. More needs to be done to ensure that this technology is being fully implemented. Clean construction policies can provide innovative, cost efficient solutions to reduce the long term costs of peoples’ exposure to this deadly pollution. These policies seek to prevent the health and environmental consequences of diesel emissions by reducing emissions and using resources more efficiently. We strongly encourage the use of zero-emission electric construction equipment and vehicles where such options exist.
Respiratory Health Association’s clean construction advocacy efforts focus on requiring the use of new, clean diesel engines or retrofitted older engines, specifying the fuel type, and limiting vehicle idling, among other strategies. Clean construction policies can be adopted voluntarily by a contractor, can be part of the bidding requirements for specific projects, or can include government projects via a local ordinance.
RHA and other community organizations continue to promote the adoption of clean construction principles at health-sensitive sites such as hospitals and to encourage the City of Chicago to strengthen its existing Clean Construction Ordinance (2-92-595).
Learn more in RHA’s Clean Construction Policies issue brief and visit the Air Pollution section of our Library for additional resources.