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Studies show improving air quality in Claymont, elevated dust along Route 9

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
Residents of Eden Park along Route 9 have complained of airborne dust and poor air quality for years

Results are in for two multi-year air quality studies examining complaints from Delaware residents in industrial areas. 

Residents of the Eden Park neighborhood near the Port of Wilmington live among industry. But the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) says it found several measures of air quality in the neighborhood to be below state and federal health standards—except for dust. Officials say the elevated dust in the neighborhood comes from soil, concrete and vehicle breaks and tires. 

Residents of Eden Park have complained for years that airborne dust lowers their quality of life. Many even said in a 2018 survey that they would move from the neighborhood if the government would buy them out. 

Angela Marconi heads DNREC’s Division of Air Quality. She says nearby facilities that generate concrete dust already had dust control plans in place—but DNREC is following up monthly to make sure they’re doing enough. 

“We’re looking at applying water to the ground, keeping the ground swept, keeping the trucks clean,” she said. “It’s a really active maintenance thing that has to be happening all the time.”

In 2019, DNREC approvedan additional operation in the area that’s expected to emit dust. Walan Specialty Construction Products received permit approval to build a slag drying and grinding facility in south Wilmington. Company representatives said in 2018 they anticipated emissions of particulate matter, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide, below New Castle County thresholds. DNREC concludedat the time that the proposed construction project complies with federal and state air pollution laws and regulations. Marconi said Wednesday Walan has not begun operating yet.

DNREC will hold a virtual community meeting to discuss the results of the Eden Park study at 6 p.m. June 23. 

The second study, in Claymont, investigated citizen concerns about volatile organic compounds at the industrial border with Marcus Hook, PA. DNREC found levels of these chemicals, which can cause a number of health problems, were low and similar to those at a monitoring station in the city of Wilmington. 

Marconi says the study shows air quality is improving in Claymont. 

“A lot of the industries that had been of concern in the past are no longer operating or have significantly changed recently,” she said. 

DNREC will hold a virtual community meeting to discuss the results of the Claymont study at 6 p.m. June 22.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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