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City councilman believes air near Winton Terrace might be toxic. Residents can't afford to leave.

Posted at 8:02 PM, Dec 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 21:27:45-05

CINCINNATI — The smell of living across the street from an industrial park was too much for Moneaca Collins, she said Thursday. She had to move.

Although they’re just as concerned about the potential side effects of living near the steel-and-concrete expanse of manufacturing plants that stretches from Vine Street to Este Avenue, most of her neighbors can’t afford to do the same.

The median household income in Winton Hills, where she lives, was under $11,000 at last census; more than half of all families reported earnings that would be below the federal poverty level even for a single-person household. Thousands live in public housing.

“A lot of people are complaining about the smell, their kids’ skin, asthma, a lot of respiratory problems,” Collins said.

City Councilman Greg Landsman wants the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate.

“In 2016, Winton Terrace” -- a Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority complex in the neighborhood -- “had more toxic air emissions released from neighboring industrial facilities than any other community in the city,” he wrote in a letter to the agency, requesting it begin a comprehensive study of air quality in the area.

Landsman did not cite specific data to support his claim.

According to the EPA, all six neighboring businesses had been previously cited for violations of the Clean Air Act but were in compliance with regulations by Thursday night.

Still, Collins said she believed the call for an official investigation was a good sign for her community.

“It’s time that somebody do step up to say, ‘Hey, what can we do to better control this air or move these families somewhere safer so they can have better quality air?’” she said.