Dallas is currently implementing a new air quality monitoring program to help protect existing neighbors from pollution and guide future land use decisions about where homes and industry should be.
Forty monitors are being installed in neighborhoods across the city, for which $1.7 million has been allocated in the city’s current budget.
“We prioritize communities that care about clean air. So we’re talking about your industrial corridors, blending plant districts and things like that,” said Dallas Environmental Quality Director Carlos Evans.
Part of the new Justice Policy in Dallas is the recognition of past injustices in certain areas.
“We know that because of our history, because of our past, because of policies like the red line and things like that, you know, some people have been pushed to the fence of our polluting facilities. We want to make sure we recognize these inequalities and promote environmental justice,” Evans said.
Children play in a park in the Dallas Joppa area under one of the new monitors that will record the potential impact of pollution.
The area is close to the train station and businesses that some neighbors blame for health problems.
“I don’t think it makes them think, they know it has affected their quality of life and health,” said resident Tamekiya Darrow.
Her neighborhood is a historic freedmen community where people of color were once forced to live. Today it is an area close to jobs where the city of Dallas encourages new homes and new residents.
“And I can speak for the community, not just Joppa, but all communities of color,” Darrow said.
She is a member of the Dallas Environmental Commission, which currently faces environmental issues sometimes ignored in the past, with the support of this equity policy.
The airborne monitors will document the suspicions of some residents, as well as help update Dallas’ land use policy, which is now in development for final approval by the Dallas City Council. This can help determine where homes and businesses will be located in the future.
“The data certainly helps us make better policy decisions at the council level, as well as advocate for communities and at the state legislature. So, once we understand what it looks like when we have industrial and residential space, it’s hard not to take action with this information,” said Dallas Environmental Commission Chair Katherine Bazan.
The data will also be shared online with neighbors.
“They will be placed on the dashboard so that residents can see this information,” Evans said.
In addition to the monitor added Monday in Joppa’s Central Park South, several other monitors are being placed elsewhere in Dallas.
Dozens more will be added by the end of 2023.