“As a person who breathes…”

  • September 27, 2019
  • |
  • Rachel Dupree

“As a person who breathes, I just want to thank Environmental Initiative and the City of St. Paul for collaborating to solve these big problems.”

—Jessie Shmool, Clean Air Minnesota Core Team member and epidemiologist at the Minnesota Department of Health

Jessie Shmool speaking at a podium behind a dirty street sweeper, and Bill Droessler standing nearby

Those big problems she’s talking about are the increasing need to focus on health equity when we talk about air pollution. No longer can we focus on national, or even statewide averages when we talk about “good” vs. “bad” air quality. We know there are pockets of harmful air throughout the state, so we know not everyone breathes the same air.

According to the 2019 Life and Breath Report (a report developed and written by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Health), air pollution in our state disproportionally affects people of color, elderly residents, children with uncontrolled asthma and people living in poverty. There are also higher concentrations of fine particles in the Twin Cities metro than other parts of the state.

So, Project Green Fleet teamed up with the City of St. Paul to focus on local air quality and emissions reductions from diesel engines. Through this partnership, we upgraded 10 public works vehicles that lacked modern emission controls, removing the pollution equivalent of more than 20,000 cars from the road. These projects significantly reduced fine particles, which are known to contribute to cardiovascular and heart disease, asthma, and COPD.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that every dollar spent on these types of diesel emission reduction projects results in $13 to $30 of public health benefits.

Project Green Fleet is an initiative of Clean Air Minnesota, a public-private-community partnership committed to creating healthy and thriving communities through continuous air emissions reductions. Media from this story includes:

  • Star Tribune: St. Paul Public Works vehicles going greener
  • CBS-WCCO: St. Paul Unveils Environmentally Friendly Public Works Vehicles
  • FOX9: Energy-efficient vehicles added to St. Paul Public Works fleet
  • Minnesota Public Radio: St. Paul’s streets will be cleaner with new greener city fleet
  • Governing: The Public Works Fleet in St. Paul, Minn., Goes Greener
  • Pioneer Press: St. Paul replaces 10 Public Works vehicles with energy-efficient alternatives
  • Bring Me the News: St. Paul replaces 10 public works vehicles with eco-friendlier alternatives