Brooklyn Heights residents concerned about pollution from promenade construction

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS -- For months, Brooklyn Heights residents have balked at the Department of Transportation's plan to fix the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway by building a six-lane highway that would take six years to build.

They've written messages on the promenade in chalk, and adults and children mailed letters to local representatives voicing their concern.

"The promenade is right next to this playground and if this plan goes through then the air and noise pollution it's going to effect them directly," said one concerned resident.

But the pollution problems might be worse than most people realized if the DOT goes through with its plan. Laurie Garrett, a former fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, says right now the promenade protects Brooklyn Heights residents from the dangerous pollution of the cars below.

"When they move it up so that the Promenade is in fact the level of the highway, all of that will then flood in to the neighborhood and affect the human health of everybody living not only in Brooklyn Heights, but immediately adjacent to DUMBO and Cobble Hill," Garrett said.

Which is why she wrote a letter to Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon outlining the negative impacts of small particles known as PM 2.5. The associated risks include lung and heart disease, and extended exposure could cut more than two years off a persons life.

"PM 2.5 refers to the danger threshold for pollutants of all kinds," Garrett explained. "If they're down at that size level or smaller, they can get in through all the protective layers of your lungs, into the blood stream and affect you in a profound range of ways in terms of your health."

We reached out to the Department of Transportation but they didn't get back to us in time for air for this story. In the past they have said they're still considering their options when it comes to fixing the expressway. But with more than 150,000 cars traveling back and forth each day they need to find a short and long-term fix before it's too late.

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