Trucks at a designated truck parking area off the Long Island...

Trucks at a designated truck parking area off the Long Island Expressway in Hauppauge in 2016. Credit: Daniel Goodrich

Diesel emissions from trucks and other vehicles could be responsible for more than 100 deaths on Long Island in 2023, along with an estimated $1 billion in local economic damage, a new report from a global nonprofit projected Thursday.

The interactive tool from Boston-based Clean Air Task Force mapped the physical and economic damage that diesel emissions from the transportation sector inflict on U.S. communities.

What to know

A report by the Clean Air Task Force based in Boston found:

  • Diesel emissions next year will be responsible for 56 deaths in Nassau County and 48 deaths in Suffolk County
  • Diesel emissions will also lead in Nassau to 20 heart attacks, 31 cases of acute bronchitis and 14 emergency room visits, and in Suffolk to 17 heart attacks, 27 cases of acute bronchitis and 6 emergency room visits
  • The economic damage in 2023 from diesel emissions in Nassau will be more than $616 million, and in Suffolk more than $528 million

The report, which uses emissions and other data projections from the EPA, charts more than 8,800 deaths, 3,700 heart attacks, hundreds of thousands of respiratory illnesses and nearly $1 trillion in health care damages annually across the United States in 2023.

Jonathan Lewis, director of transportation decarbonization at CATF, said diesel emissions are "wreaking havoc on air quality" across the nation.

"We hope this map will help people living and working in the most affected towns and cities quantify and articulate the enormous damage that diesel pollution causes in their communities," Lewis said. "This information can help them push local and state leaders in government and business to develop better community planning processes, make smarter and more sustainable investments in roadways and fleet vehicles, and provide better access to preventive and responsive health care."

Diesel trucks and other equipment are considered large contributors to air pollution, particularly in industrial and urban hubs.

The map focuses on the impact of fine particulate matter, a mixture of solid particles such as dust, dirt and soot and liquid droplets found in the air. The EPA said exposure to fine particulate matter can cause heart attacks, strokes, worsened asthma and early death.

The "Deaths by Dirty Diesel" tool allows users to find annual projected damages from diesel pollution on national, state and local levels.

The data projects that diesel in Nassau County will be responsible for 56 deaths next year, 20 heart attacks, 31 cases of acute bronchitis and 14 emergency room visits. The economic damage would be more than $616 million, including nearly 3,000 lost days of work and more than 17,000 restricted activity days, according to the data.

In Suffolk County, the data projects 48 deaths from diesel, 17 heart attacks, 27 cases of acute bronchitis and six emergency room visits. The economic damage, the report suggests, would be more than $528 million through more than 2,600 lost work days and nearly 16,000 restricted activity days.

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, called diesel engines "antiquated technology" that makes the public sick.

"Long Island is particularly vulnerable because of the amount of diesel vehicles on the roads every day." she said. "In addition to poisoning our air, diesel emissions contribute to the production of ground-level ozone which damages crops, trees, and contributes to acid rain, which severely damages soil and freshwater systems. The quicker we eliminate dirty diesel, the more lives we will save, and we all will be able to breathe easier."

Nassau County spokesman Chris Boyle said County Executive Bruce Blakeman "takes the health and safety of Nassau residents seriously, and is currently reviewing the recently released report with the county’s health commissioner."

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone did not respond to a request for comment on the data.

The Clean Air Task Force report recommends a federal zero carbon fuel standard and larger investments in propulsion technologies that can replace diesel engines, including electric vehicles and hydrogen-powered fuel cells.

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