2002-02-06 / Front Page

Crowley Secures $100G For LaG Pollution Study

by john toscano

Following up on a request he made last April to the federal Environmental Protection Agency for an air and noise quality study around LaGuardia Airport, Congressmember Joseph Crowley announced last week that he had secured $100,000 for the survey.

The study could begin as early as May, Crowley said. He made the announcement last Friday at the Delta Marine Air Terminal at the western Queens airport accompanied by Dr. Hadi Jabbar, director of the pediatric asthma center at New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens in Flushing and several Community leaders, including Rose Marie Poveromo, president of the United Community Civic Association (UCCA).

The always outspoken Poveromo, who’s also a member of the Queens Aviation Advisory Council, said she hoped the study would not be "flawed or tilted to benefit the airline industry."

Crowley (D–Queens/ Bronx), whose district includes the busy airport, originally called on the EPA to update its air quality study. The request was part of his five-point Action Plan for LaGuardia Airport, which was contained in his report entitled "LaGuardia Airport: Can the Airport and the Community Exist?"

At the airport press conference he declared: "I have made a commitment to reduce the impact of noise and air pollution on the health of the men, women and children of Queens County, and make LaGuardia Airport a better neighbor. This EPA study will hopefully provide the accurate data we need to craft policies to reduce noise levels and improve the air quality in Queens."

The airport handles about 1,200 flights each day. Crowley complained, "Western Queens bears the brunt of an ever-increasing volume of traffic both in the skies and on the roadways, and we are feeling the effects. Many families have concerns about the effects of this increased traffic on the health of children and the elderly, in particular. With increasing asthma rates in New York City and Queens County, the air we breathe is not a quality of life issue—it is an issue of life or death."

Jabbar said he hoped the EPA study would come up with some answers and recommendations for the city’s 140,000 asthma sufferers. He said Queens and the Bronx have some of the city’s highest asthma rates.

The $100,000 will allow the EPA, working with community groups, to focus on hot spots in communities around the airport where the federal agency can set up devices for monitoring the airport-related aircraft noise and air pollution.

Community leaders in areas surrounding the airport have long complained that airplane exhaust from planes operating out of LaGuardia and vehicles traveling on the Grand Central Parkway past the airport are responsible for the high asthma rates. The many power plants in Astoria bear much of the blame as well, they charge.

Areas within a five-mile radius of the airport will be monitored in the study, which may be completed by next fall.

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