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New $1 million air pollution study in Rubbertown

Funds from the Environmental Justice Government-to-Government grant will help address air pollution in this west Louisville neighborhood.

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The new study is designed to be a direct comparison to the similar West Louisville Air Toxics Study from the early 2000s.

Photo by Louisville Tourism

Louisville’s Rubbertown area will be the site of a new toxic emissions study thanks to funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District (APCD) and its partners received the $1 million EPA grant as part of the Environmental Justice Government-to-Government program.

The money will fund a three-year project dubbed Ambient Air Toxics and Health Action for the Rubber Town Area, which will monitor air pollution in the West End and also sample wastewater — a new approach for monitoring exposure to pollution.

The study’s results will be used to develop policy recommendations to reduce pollutant exposure + help medical professionals improve early detection and treatment options for affected residents.

The new project comes nearly 20 years after the West Louisville Air Toxics Study that resulted in the Toxic Air Reduction (STAR) program in 2005. One of the most stringent local toxic air emission reduction programs in the country, STAR has helped drop ~80% of toxic air contaminants in the area.

Rubbertown refers to the chemical industrial complex near the Park Duvalle and Lake Dreamland neighborhoods in the West End. It’s Louisville’s largest source of industrial emissions and gets its name from the tire and synthetic rubber plants that were built there during World War II near existing oil refineries. Today, there are 11+ plants that produce various chemicals and materials. Learn more about the companies and what they produce.

When the study begins, a website will be created to keep the Louisvillians informed on the progress. In the meantime, APCD has a series of workshops you can attend to get further insight on the agency’s work.

Bonus: To learn more about the effects Rubbertown has on area residents, watch this 2016 documentary.