Bergen Beach parents say the foul fumes from a nearby bus depot are causing chronic health problems for their children.
Neighbors of the New Dawn Transit depot on E. 69th Street between Avenues X and W say the dozens of aging school buses are illegally idling for long periods, and the exhaust is causing irreversible breathing problems for their kids.
One mother said her five-year-old son had a clean bill of health before the buses started smoking up the neighborhood when school started in September — and she said her doctor told her the youngster could be having a reaction to the noxious fumes.
“The doctors told me that it is very possible he is allergic to the carbon in the air,” said Jennifer DeBiasi, who has four children and lives across the street from the bus lot. “It is a month and he has got no other symptoms besides this chronic coughing — he has never had those problems ever.”
Residents say the buses double park, block driveways, and loudly idle at all hours of the night and early morning. But residents who have reported their complaints to 311, the 63rd Precinct, and even 911 say they aren’t sure where else to turn.
“My mother keeps telling me contact Erin Brockovich,” said DeBiasi.
One local elected official said he isn’t surprised the thick fumes are causing health problems, and said the police need to ticket the buses illegally idling to quell the exhaust.
“If the buses are idling, those are toxic fumes,” said Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Marine Park). “The police department has to enforce the rules — they’re not allowed to idle there, they’re not allowed to park on the street.”
DeBiasi said her son is now taking Singulair, a drug used to prevent asthma attacks. And her toddler, who had mild asthma, needs more medication than ever since the school year started.
“Now I had to up all his medication,” she said. “We were trying to wean him off — it was doing well then I took him in the beginning of September, I had to put him back on.”
Another nearby parent said his baby is having similar symptoms — and his son’s respiratory issues are so severe, he said he is thinking about moving.
“My son is 15 months old — I’ve seen an increase in coughing, without a doubt,” said Joseph Buoncore, who lives down the street from the depot. “It is a health concern, it is a safety concern. I’m strongly considering selling the home.”
He said if the police don’t start issuing summonses soon, the neighborhood air will become even more dangerous for residents in a few months because the buses will be idling for even longer periods while they heat up their vehicles when the temperature drops.
“It is going to get so much worse when the winter comes and they have to start these vehicles up 15, 20 minutes before,” said Buoncore. “I can only imagine.”