A team of reporters with The Fresno Bee and KSEE24 | CBS 47 is working on stories about what increased truck traffic means to residents in south-central Fresno. If you live in the area, you can help us do this work by filling out the form below.
Residents in Calwa, Malaga, and nearby areas have seen increased truck traffic in the last few years as a result of new warehouse distribution facilities. Diesel trucks emit toxic air pollution that can cause an increased risk of cancer and respiratory illness in nearby neighborhoods.
Rosa DePew has lived near Highway 41 and East Central Avenue for most of her life. The neighborhood changed after Amazon and Ulta warehouses were built less than a half-mile from her front door, she said.
“It was just a field, agriculture,” she said. “Now, we have a factory, traffic, trucks driving by, noise, lights.”
Fresno already has some of the worst air quality in the nation, according to a 2022 report from the American Lung Association. Data show pollution is higher in south Fresno, where the rate of asthma-related hospital visits is among the highest in the state. The area is already overburdened with multiple sources of pollution, according to a state analysis called CalEnviroScreen.
Fresno city leaders promote warehouse distribution and fulfillment centers as a primary source of employment in south-central Fresno. The city solicits these types of businesses, and plans are underway to build more warehouses in the near future.
“Air quality is getting worse,” said Gilda Zarate-Gonzalez, who studies public health and health economics at UC Merced and raises her three children in Sunnyside, near Highway 180 and North Clovis Avenue.
Her 13-year-old son, Patricio, was diagnosed with asthma about five years ago. When he has an asthma attack, he said, “It feels like, I guess, you can barely breathe, you know? It’s like getting choked.” He manages his asthma by staying indoors when the air quality is bad, he said.
Traffic has increased in Patricio’s neighborhood over his lifetime. Now, an Amazon fulfillment center is planned to be built a few blocks away.
Tim Tyner, a research doctor and co-executive director of the Central California Asthma Collaborative said “diesel trucks emit dozens of toxic chemicals…many of which are known carcinogens.”
Breathing in emissions from trucks “can elicit an inflammatory response that’s been associated with an increased risk of hospitalization for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, including asthma episodes and heart attacks, as well as an increased risk of lung cancer and premature mortality,” Tyner said.
Reporters are interested in learning about your experiences and your questions about truck traffic, warehouse distribution facilities and how to protect your health. If you want to speak with the team or learn more, please take a few moments to fill out the survey.
Monica Vaughan is a freelance journalist based in Fresno. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Brianna Vaccari is a journalist for The Fresno Bee. She can be reached at email@example.com.
This project is supported by a grant from USC Annenberg’s Center for Health Journalism 2022 California Impact Fund.