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One-Third of Greenpoint's Vulnerable Population Report Asthma

By Meredith Hoffman | April 18, 2013 10:52am | Updated on April 18, 2013 11:14am

GREENPOINT — Many Greenpoint residents are living with asthma problems, a new report shows.

One-third of Greenpoint's residents reported suffering asthma or living with it in their household in a recent study by the Brooklyn Hospital Center that surveyed a set of focus groups in North and Central Brooklyn.

The focus groups included teenagers, pregnant women, immigrants, Spanish speakers, people with physical disabilities and 45 — 55-year-old men, and the vast majority were considered low income.

The neighborhood was second in asthma rates after Brownsville, where 39 percent of residents reported at least one member of their household facing asthma. 

The report, compiled from 644 surveys in 15 zip codes throughout North and Central Brooklyn, said the asthma findings necessitated air quality sampling to determine the exact causes of such asthma rates.

Environmental advocates in Greenpoint linked the findings to the neighborhood's high burden of waste processing. Members of the group OUTRAGE (Organization United for Trash and Environmental Equity) claimed that the neighborhood processed 30 percent of the city's trash, leading to pollution and air quality concerns.

“The study confirms what North Brooklyn residents have known for ages: That asthma rates in North Brooklyn are alarmingly high, largely because of our neighborhood’s disproportionate concentration of waste transfer stations and the consequent truck traffic," said Rolando Guzman, an OUTRAGE community organizer and a member of the local non-profit organization St. Nick's Alliance. 

But a spokeswoman for the city's Department of Health said air quality alone did not determine individual neighborhoods' asthma rates, and that indoor factors such as mold could also contribute to asthma problems.

"Outdoor air pollution can also exacerbate asthma, but air pollution patterns across the city do not explain overall asthma disparities," she said. "Our District Public Health Offices work with communities to help reduce health disparities."