Heart disease, cancer, asthma, and premature births are illnesses that residents of south Baltimore face. The neighborhood of Curtis Bay, located in South Baltimore, is known as “the workmen’s part of town” due to the fact that industrial plants surround the small neighborhood.

Living in the community of Curtis Bay are low income families, immigrant residents and minorities. We the people need to come together to bring a better quality of life to them. Because of the industrial plants, Curtis Bay has the highest level of air pollution in the city.

Veronica Brown (Courtesy Photo)

The Maryland Clean Air Progress Report reported that Baltimore does not meet the sulfur release standards. Sulfur dioxide is released into the air and destroys our ozone. Sulfur dioxide is defined as a colorless, odorous (similar to the smell of eggs), toxic gas formed by burning sulfur in the air. Sulfur dioxide is a combination of fossil fuel that comes from power plants, industrial boilers, coal usage and oil refineries. Sulfur can enter your body through your nose and lungs.

Sulfur can lead to multiple health problems such as premature birth, heart disease, and is also linked to cancer. In 2016, the Environmental Integrity Project monitored air pollution in Curtis Bay and found numerous hazardous materials were released into the environment along with coal burning. This pollution leads to more children and adults being diagnosed with asthma. Currently, in Baltimore City, 12.4 percent of adults have asthma compared to the national rate of 8.6 percent. The number of children with asthma in Baltimore is 20percent; more than twice the national average of 9.4 percent. In 2016, the number of deaths caused by cancer in Maryland was so high that we were ranked  27th in the nation.

Herbert A. Wagner and C.P. Crane power plants, both of which are near Curtis Bay, are some of Maryland’s top polluters. In 2016, the Maryland Department of the Environment placed regulations on the plants to help lessen the sulfur release.

Would you live in Curtis Bay?  I propose an alternative way to release environmental hazards in a safer manner. One way that can be, is by setting higher hazardous release standards for these companies and by creating wind turbinesThis will eventually help decrease air pollution and enrich the quality of life in Baltimore.

The Maryland Energy Administration Wind Energy Program will supply over 20 percent of renewable energy by 2022 by creating wind farms. We as residents and good-hearted individuals need to come together and put an end to the sulfur release. We should fight for quality air and the enrichment of life for Curtis Bay. This starts by creating efficient ways to dispose of hazardous waste by using renewable energy.

Bringing a better quality of life to one part of the city can inspire the rest of the city to follow through. My proposal will give Curtis Bay a healthier lifestyle, lessen the pollution and, eventually, put an end to the unsafe sulfur release. If we work together, Baltimore as a whole will benefit and become a better, healthier place for children to develop and for adults to thrive.

Veronica Brown received her Master’s of Public Health from Western Michigan University. She is currently an epidemiologist research assistant at the University of Maryland, School of Nursing.