We Pollute

Submitted by Jerry Halberstadt on Sat, 09/23/2023 - 16:39

We burn fossil fuels—coal, oil, gas, wood, diesel, gasoline—for the energy we use in all our activities. These fires create pollution that harms our health and endangers our climate. Come with me and survey some of the sources of pollution in our city, Peabody, Massachusetts. Then we can begin to discuss how we can work together to change things and reduce pollution.

Our buildings 

Rainbow over Peabody Square
From left: Peabody District Courthouse; Baptist church; City Hall; St. John's church; firehouse.  In each of these buildings we use energy to heat and cool and for lighting and communications.
Higgins Middle School
Greek Orthodox Church
The St. Vesalius Greek Orthodox Church, one of the many buildings for communal and religious gathering for the many cultural, religious, and civic groups of Peabody.
Lahey Medical Center
Lahey Medical Center
Peabody Institute Library
Peabody Institute Library
Bishop Fenwick High School
Bishop Fenwick High School
Fire station
Fire station


Brick and cement apartment building
Apartment building for elderly persons.
Single-family homes on tree-shaded street
Single-family homes on tree-shaded street. The nearby old smokestack is adjacent to the Waters River Facility of the Peabody Municipal Light Plant.
Three-decker buildings
Three-decker buildings


Traffic in Peabody Square
Peabody Square traffic. Commuters from Salem and Marblehead pass through Peabody.
Traffic on route 128 near Lowell Street
We depend on our cars to go places. Traffic on route 128 near Lowell Street. Three major roads pass through Peabody: I95, 128, and 1.
Freight train in Peabody Square
The diesel freight train that serves the Rouselot gelatin plant goes through Peabody Square, passing the Civil War monument and Peabody District Court.
Airplane on path to land at Logan airport passes over Peabody city hall.
Airplanes on path to land at Logan airport pass over Peabody city hall.

Electrical generation

river with wetlands and industrial buildings with smokestacks
The electric generators for peak demand use are located at the Waters River facility of the Peabody Municipal Light Plant; they burn natural gas (methane) and oil. 
Old peaker plant
The electric generators for peak demand use are located at the Waters River facility of the Peabody Municipal Light Plant; they burn natural gas (methane) and oil. 

Farm & Industry 

A dairy farm in Peabody
Dairy farm in Peabody
Rouselot Plant
Rouselot Plant

Indoor pollution

Cooking with gas
Indoor air pollution can be more severe than outdoor pollution. So-called clean natural gas is mostly methane which impacts health as well as the environment.

Wildfire smoke

Map of Massachusetts showing pollution from wildfire smoke
Air quality map showing levels of PM2.5 and PM10 particulate pollution caused by wildfires on July 1, 2023. Green = "good", with yellow = "moderate", orange = "unhealthy for sensitive people", and red = "unhealthy."  Source: AirNow 
Air quality map
Map of Peabody area showing four red circles with numbers representing air quality readings of PM2.5, on October 17, 2022, 10:35 am.  Air Quality (AQ) monitors from West to East (Left to Right): #nn numbers identify the monitor.  Near Crystal Lake #5.3, AQ=88; North Shore Mall #4.2, AQ=100; Pulaski St. near Davensport #3.3, AQ=91; near Welch School #2.1, AQ=98. AQ is the 10-minute level of PM2.5 using EPA measure.
Graph of AQ level readings at monitor 4.2
Graph of AQ level readings at monitor 4.2 at the North Shore Mall, November 15-17, 2022

PM2.5 spikes such as you are seeing in Peabody are associated with several major short-term health problems in the 24-48 hours following the spike: increased heart attacks, increased episodes of cardiac arrhythmia, and increased episodes of acute asthma in both children and adults.”—Philip J. Landrigan, personal communication