I grew up in rural western Massachusetts, in an old farmhouse with a brook running through the yard and an old barn in the back. It sounds quaint until you find out who the neighbors were.
My grandparents bought the eight-acre property in the late 1930s, but in sometime before I was born the government paid my grandparents for the four back acres and put in the last stretch of the Turnpike. The location proved to be perfect for investors looking to put in a truck plaza, complete with diesel, a restaurant, and rooms for rent. As soon as the truck stop went in next door, the road in front of my house became a constant thoroughfare for eighteen-wheelers looking to fuel up, grab a bite, and catch some shut eye. Problem was, many of them didn't want to spend the money to rent a room. Instead, they'd idle their trucks while they slept. For hours. All night sometimes. During the winter the pollution was so thick that it made you want to hold your breath outside.
I grew up in rural western Massachusetts with the Turnpike in the back, a major, well-traveled road in the front, and a truck stop right next door, but it sounds a lot less quaint when you put it that way. By the way, I was three when I was diagnosed with asthma.
The diesel fuel used to power the eighteen-wheelers whose pollution I breathed growing up is much less dirty than the bunker fuel used to power ocean-going ships, and freight trains produce their own problematic pollution. It's called "Goods Movement Pollution," and it's a product of our enthusiasm for consumption. As a part of the American Public Media series Consumed, Marketplace ran a segment titled It's enough to take your breath away. Want to know who's responsible for goods movement pollution and what could be done to curb it? Have a listen, or read the transcript.