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EPA Agrees To Monitor Chelsea Air Quality

Housing on Clark Avenue in Chelsea. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Housing on Clark Avenue in Chelsea. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Wednesday that it will work with Massachusetts to better monitor air quality in Chelsea. The city has several longstanding sources of air pollution — including exhaust from highway traffic and Logan Airport -- and the highest rate of coronavirus cases in the state.

The EPA's announcement responded to a letter sent by Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley on July 15 expressing concerns over Chelsea’s air quality, and noting that there are currently no federal or state air quality monitors in Chelsea.

The EPA committed to work with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to deploy a permanent air quality monitoring station in Chelsea. The EPA letter also noted that the agency has identified nine mobile air sensors that can be deployed immediately, if needed.

“For too long, the residents of Chelsea have been breathing some of the most polluted air in the Commonwealth and suffering disproportionately high rates of asthma, COVID-19, and other respiratory illnesses as a result," Pressley said in a joint statement with Markey. "We’re encouraged by this progress, and our work is far from over, we must continue to fight for environmental justice for Chelsea and other vulnerable communities across the country.”

“The residents of Chelsea can breathe a little easier today,” Markey said in the statement. “I am glad the EPA has heeded our request to take this first step to responding to dangerous inequities in air quality.”

Both the EPA and Mass. DEP said they'd follow up with the state Department of Transportation to better monitor air pollution at Chelsea demolition and construction sites. The EPA also agreed to work with the state to study air quality in Chelsea more closely this fall.

Related:

Barbara Moran Twitter Senior Producing Editor, Environment
Barbara Moran is the senior producing editor for WBUR’s environmental vertical.

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