Warehouses seem to get all the press when it comes to negative air quality impacts. It’s time we started looking at the impacts from fast food drive through lanes, especially when they’re next to residential properties.
Air quality regulations require a five hundred foot separation between sensitive receptors – schools, parks, day care, hospitals, dormitories and a project or sites that produce emissions -warehouses, freeways, refineries.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District is tracking freeway pollution in Anaheim and Fontana. In Southern California, nearly 3 million people live within 550 yards of a freeway. Years of studies have found increased health risks — for cancer, heart attacks, asthma, lung impairment, birth defects and autism, among other ailments.
The Feds have spent years resisting the installation of monitoring stations to scientifically measure actual harm because commercial interests didn’t want to risk having to change their operations or risk their profits. Though apparently it’s ok to risk the public health.
The super sized combo we should be paying attention to is drive through emissions and health costs. Do you want some fine particle pollution with that burger? More people die on days when fine-particle pollution is high.
One would question the wisdom of permitting drive thru lanes in residential neighborhoods. Eco-friendly McDonalds was honored for it’s groundbreaking LEED Certification but no one looked at the context of double drive thru lanes on the other side of the block wall separating it from a residential neighborhood.
In the further pursuit of operational efficiency and profit, McDonald’s is seeking even faster service at the drive through.
Drive through patrons at McDonald’s according industry publication QSR’s annual survey, are now waiting 189.49 seconds between the time they order food and pick it up at the window. That is McDonald’s slowest time in the 15-year history of the survey.
That places McCalorie third behind perennial survey champ Wendy’s (133.63 seconds) and Taco Bell (158.03 seconds) and just ahead of Burger King (198.48 seconds ) and Chick-fil-A (203.88 seconds).
Imagine people in some parts of the world complaining if it took more than three minutes to prepare, package and deliver a full month’s supply of calories unless that part of the world is sucking in exhaust from every car with a driver tapping an anxious toe.
It seems we just can’t get enough of drive through restaurants. A crowd gathered for the new In-N_Out in Rialto and we can expect another to open at Iowa and University once the Coco’s lease is up.
Maybe we should do some calculation on the amount of carcinogens and fine particle pollution that’s about to be unleashed on the East Side Neighborhood. What does one hundred eighty nine seconds per idling car at Micky D’s, plus double drive through lanes for In-N-Out and no doubt somewhat longer idle times actually add up to in air quality health impacts?
We have the makings of another health crime in progress. If this is what healthy cities initiatives look like then I think we have some more work to do.
Other portions of this story include: