DA Candidate Ken Thompson Identifies Brooklyn Heights as High Asthma Zone

In a press release today, Ken Thompson, a former federal prosecutor and candidate for the Democratic nomination for Kings County District Attorney, declared his intention to establish an environmental crimes unit in the DA’s office if elected. In his discussion of environmental problems in Brooklyn, he notes that Brooklyn Heights is one of five borough neighborhoods–the others are Bushwick, Downtown Brooklyn, Park Slope, and Williamsburg–having asthma rates that exceed the national average by twenty to forty percent. He also says, “residents of Brownstone Brooklyn and parts of South Brooklyn are hospitalized up to 50% more than the rest of the city.” (I suspect that average age may have something to do with this last statistic, though environmental factors likely also contribute to it.)

Mr. Thompson is opposed in the Democratic primary by the incumbent, Charles Hynes, and by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Abe George.

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  • Jorale-man

    If his assertions hold up, the big question is why. Asthma typically surfaces in low-income neighborhoods where things like peeling paint in old tenements or lack of trees is an issue. I’m no expert on the matter but it seems like the Heights should be low on the list. There is the age factor, as you say.

  • Sylvester

    The BQE = 240,000 vehicles daily. The prevailing west-to-east winds constantly blanket BH with their pollution.

  • Lois

    The primary reason it is in poor neighborhoods is cockroaches and also genetic predisposition to the disease.

  • Cranberry Beret

    I’m not sure this is true. The bqe is almost entirely below the heights. In dumbo, where the highway (and bridges) are above the neighborhood, I’ve noticed far more particulate accumulation on window sills etc.

  • Jorale-man

    I wonder that too. If the BQE was a big factor, neighborhoods like Cobble Hill (around the trench), Dumbo (as mentioned), Fort Greene or Williamsburg would also have similar problems. That said, in a perfect world the city would completely overhaul the highway and bury most of it.

  • Timothy Hurley

    What is it about the beauty of Brooklyn Heights that attracts asthmatics?

  • barkomatic

    He’s right, when I lived in Park Slope the windowsills would be covered with grimy pollution after a week. Of course, the same is true in Manhattan. I can’t wait until either all cars are electric or are banned entirely from the city.

  • Sylvester

    Of the communities listed, only Bushwick isn’t adjacent to the BQE. Park Slope starts at 4th Avenue, and the BQE is elevated over 3rd Avenue which is west of the Slope. Williamsburg is dissected by the BQE, and Downtown Bklyn is also downwind of the BQE.

    Anyone within 500 feet of a major highway is subject to abnormally high rates of pollution, hence asthma. Just because the BQE is in a trench, or on the side of a hill doesn’t change things. The polluted air still moves off the roadway.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlsiLOnWCoI Arch Stanton

    So there is a genetic predisposition for being poor?

  • Charles S.

    it has more to do with the Klondike King’s 1940’s generator exhaust spewing out over Pierrepont Playground that’s to blame – that exhaust hangs like the San Fran mist on hot days…. those kids are getting asthma straight out of the gate

  • TeddyNYC

    If only the BQE had been built east of the Heights, we wouldn’t be breathing all of the pollution that it spews daily. I know pollution is just something you just have to deal with when you live in a city, but there’s definitely room for improvement (like electric cars).

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlsiLOnWCoI Arch Stanton

    Remember, the original plan was to route the BQE through the Heights