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Environmental Justice: Seattle’s Beacon Hill Addressing Air And Noise Pollution

flickr via Compfight
Evening view from Beacon Hill, looking through trees towards the fogged in Port of Seattle.

Community leaders in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood have a two-year environmental justice grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to address health issues from air and noise pollution. They’re holding a meeting Saturday at the Centilia Cultural Center on the campus of  El Centro de la Raza.  

Beacon Hill is one of the city’s largest and most-diverse neighborhoods. It’s also in a location that makes it one of the most polluted, says Maria Batayola with El Centro de la Raza.

“We are surrounded by I-5, I-90, Rainier and MLK. And overhead, we have airplanes from SeaTac Airport, King County International Airport/Boeing Field. So with all of those, there is ongoing concern about noise and air quality,” Batayola says.    

She says residents report take-offs and landings as frequent as every three minutes. Many people complain of compromised sleep. And yet, because the neighborhood is not directly adjacent to an airport, they’re not eligible for any mitigation funds from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The EPA grant started last year, working to empower the community to find solutions with outreach conducted in 6 languages. Now, Batayola says they’re launching a community action plan.

Health effects of noise and air pollution can include increased rates of stress, asthma, heart disease and reduced learning potential.

Solutions they’re exploring range from getting focused health studies done to quantify the problem on Beacon Hill to insulating buildings for noise reduction.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment beat for KNKX, where she has worked since 1999. From 2000-2012, she covered the business and labor beat. Bellamy has a deep interest in Indigenous affairs and the Salish Sea. She has a masters in journalism from Columbia University.
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