Out west and sandwiched between St. Louis Park and Hopkins, away from the claustrophobic corridors of Interstates 35 and 94, the spit of land bisected by Minnehaha Creek shines as an island of pollution.
The area by Knollwood Mall registers high in three categories — ozone levels, crap in the air, and harmful chemical releases — making it one of the Twin Cities' most polluted neighborhoods, according to newly-released data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Agency last week issued maps of 18 American cities and metro areas not only showing pollution levels, but neighborhood environmental disparities as well.
The findings were eye-popping.
Minorities and low-income families typically live in the Twin Cities' most polluted areas.
Poor air quality is an issue in north Minneapolis, south of downtown on the eastern side of I-35, and north of St. Paul's center to the west of Phalen Golf Course.
Along the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul by Holman Field, showed the largest area with thick readings of dirt, dust, soot, and smoke in the air.
In various neighborhoods south and northeast of downtown Minneapolis and along the I-94 east corridor toward St. Paul have serious issues with "known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants."
Back on the metro area's west side, the swath near Knollwood Mall remains a pollution anomaly when compared to surrounding areas.
Minnehaha Creek Watershed District spokeswomen Telly Mamayek says that area has long been the most polluted part of the 22-mile waterway.
"In the 1950s," she says, "that area exploded with development and so much of the land was paved. The area continues to be heavy with commercial activity so it's not a surprise that pollution levels show this."
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