New Report Finds Roughly 1 in 3 New Jersey Residents Lives Near a Mega-warehouse

Communities exposed to diesel truck emissions associated with warehouses face higher levels of air pollution linked to health problems like asthma and cardiovascular disease.

June 18, 2024
Derek Schwabe,

(TRENTON, NJ – June 18, 2024) One in 3 New Jersey residents now lives within a half-mile of a mega-warehouse, facing elevated exposure to freight truck pollution, according to a new report released Tuesday, June 18 by Environmental Defense Fund and the Coalition for Healthy Ports NY/NJ. This report builds on recent similar EDF analyses in New York and Illinois.

Diesel-powered freight trucks play a crucial role in the supply chain but exacerbate air and noise pollution and pose safety and traffic challenges. They are also the fastest-growing source of climate pollution in many areas. Our report traces the explosive growth of mega-warehouses, which generate hundreds of thousands of truck trips daily throughout the state. It also shows how these facilities are more likely to be located in communities of color and of lower wealth.

Access the full report here. 


What: Launch of new EDF report: New Jersey Warehouse Boom

When: Tuesday, June 18, 2024, 1:00 PM ET

Where: Join us online. Get details and register here.

To set up an interview, please contact Derek Schwabe

Key report findings:

  • The report identified 3,034 warehouses in the state of New Jersey. 44% of these warehouses are between 50,000 and 100,000 square feet and 56% exceed 100,000 square feet (about the size of a standard big box retailer).
  • These warehouses comprise 527 million square feet – a number that has grown 35% in the last two decades. They generate at least 380,000 truck trips every day.
  • 2.7 million people – about one in three New Jerseyans – live within a half mile of these warehouses. Some 178,000 are under age five and 350,000 are over age 64.
  • Limited English populations are 1.9 times more likely to live within half a mile of these warehouses than expected, compared to statewide demographics. This population composes 0.02% of the total state population and 0.04% of warehouse neighbors. 
  • Hispanic/Latino populations are 1.8 times more likely to live within half a mile of these warehouses than expected, compared to statewide demographics. This population composes 20.2% of the total state population and 36.7% of warehouse neighbors. 
  • Low-income populations are 1.5 times more likely to live within half a mile of these warehouses than expected, compared to statewide demographics. This population composes 9.8% of the total state population and 14.8% of warehouse neighbors. 
  • Black populations are 1.4 times more likely to live within half a mile of these warehouses than expected, compared to statewide demographics. This population composes 14.8% of the total state population and 21.1% of warehouse neighbors. 
  • Indigenous American populations are 1.1 times more likely to live within half a mile of these warehouses than expected, compared to statewide demographics.   This population composes 0.07% of the total state population and 0.08% of warehouse neighbors. 

Sam Becker, Project Manager with EDF’s Global Clean Air Initiative, observed how the report’s findings quantify an issue that communities have been raising the alarm about for years. "New Jersey residents living near and working in warehouses will not be surprised by the outsized growth of truck-attracting facilities documented in this report and the disproportionate burden of polluted air they have no choice but to breathe.”

Lawmakers, community groups and advocates call for legislative action

The report arrives as state legislators put forward the Warehouse and Port Pollution Reduction Act, a bill that would curb pollution at warehouses and other truck attracting facilities by requiring them to implement concrete emission reduction measures. The bill would direct DEP to establish flexible compliance options alongside permitting requirements to achieve these reductions, with higher thresholds for environmental justice communities. 

“We have seen a huge increase in warehouses across the state in the last few years and they don’t only add traffic around them — but also air pollution. I see it everyday when I’m driving down 206 with my kids and I’m not the only one. We have giant trucks rumbling down residential streets that were never built with this in mind. I’m proud to be introducing legislation that will bring transparency to where these mega warehouses are going and how they impact the community around them,” said State Assemblywoman, Andrea Katz.

“There is no doubt that warehouses and ports are a critical component of NJ’s freight and goods movement industry. But the health and environmental impact it is posing on many communities that live in close proximity to these facilities, cannot be tolerated any longer. Which is why I am proud to support legislation like establishing an ISR program here in NJ. This policy just goes to show that it is possible to create a freight and goods movement system that is sustainable for all stakeholders involved,” added State Senator, John F. Mckeon.

Members of the Coalition for Healthy Ports, a state-wide coalition, commented on the report’s findings and the need for legislators to act. 

“This report combined with having the right leadership committed to introducing a statewide policy like an ISR (Indirect Source Rule) is needed more than ever right now. Without a clean transition in business operations at our ports and warehouses, environmental justice and overburdened communities will continue to suffer. New Jersey’s freight industry and goods movement desperately needs to be improved and an having a statewide policy like an ISR, in addition to others, would definitely be a step in the right direction,”  said Tolani Taylor, Zero Emissions & Warehouse Organizer with Clean Water Action. 

“We can move goods in New Jersey without funneling diesel pollution into communities and kids’ lungs. The Warehouse and Port Pollution Reduction Act would go a long way in giving communities living in the shadow of ports and mega warehouses a breath of clean air. This bill will fill in major gaps in New Jersey law, and begin to meaningfully shift the goods movement industry over to zero-emissions solutions that will help clear our skies of smog and pollution” added Casandia Bellevue, Associate Attorney with the Community Partnerships Program at Earthjustice. 

“Warehouses have negative impacts that affect the health and wellness of nearby residents. Diesel trucks idling and traveling to and from these warehouses emit NOx, particulate matter and black carbon (soot) into the air, which are extremely harmful air pollutants. Our communities need wellness, over warehouses!” said Kelli Koontz Wilson, Coordinator for the Coalition for Healthy Ports.

"New Jersey environmental justice communities need an indirect source review policy that specifically protects them from large amounts of diesel traffic” said Nicky Sheats, Ph.D., Esq., Director, Center for the Urban Environment, John S. Watson Institute for Urban Policy and Research at Kean University, and Member of the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance

Additional quotes from activists across New Jersey 

"Our children are the future of American Society…. I have asthma. I can't imagine young children who are from less wealthy families having to breathe diesel fuels and air pollution that will destroy their lungs. We must regulate NJ DEP to monitor truck and car traffic at these mega-warehouses. Children of color matter as much as white children. This Legislative idea is life-changing. THANK YOU Tolani Taylor and Clean Water Action for leading the effort for social justice that will prevail over warehouses." said Sue Kozel, Public Historian, Clean Water Action member and anti-warehouse advocate trying to protect a Revolutionary War site in Upper Freehold from 500,000 sq. ft. of warehouses.

"Warehouses have proliferated across our state, and communities are asked to choose between their health and the promises of jobs, the environment and the promises of jobs, clean air and jobs.  Our experience and the data both tell us we need BOTH quality jobs and clean air, and we can no longer allow developers, their lobbyists, or legislators to make us choose." said Garrett O’Connor, Director of Worker Organizing and Policy, Make the Road New Jersey.

“We cannot keep siting industry - and the associated impacts on air and water quality - in Black and Brown communities that are already disproportionately overburdened with air pollution,” said Ed Potosnak, Director, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.

"The legislature must take action before more warehouses are built in communities already suffering from air pollution, next to schools, in green spaces, and on farmland.”

“The primary goal of ALL governments is to protect & serve their citizens/residents. This holds true regarding the appropriate placement of warehouses. They must not impinge on the safety & wellbeing of the residents/citizens, and be strategically located within our state & towns,” said Sarah Zacharczyk, Member of Citizens Action Warehouse Group

“Without adequate regulation in place, we now endure constant lawsuits, and when residents fail to protect their communities, much suffering and consternation between the public and lawmakers. We need the NJ State Planning Commission's Warehouse Siting Guidance to be mandated to ensure that residents' health, safety and way of life are not marginalized for developer profits. Support all bills that curb warehouse sprawl and protect the Garden State,”said Stacey Fox, Executive Director of Mercer County Defense League 

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One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund ( creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. Connect with us on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund

Founded in 2007, Coalition for Healthy Ports (CHP) is a broad coalition of environmental, labor, community, faith and environmental justice organizations seeking environmental justice and the improvement of  air quality, quality of life and health of port and freight-affected communities, as well as protect workers that support port commerce from ships to delivery. CHP is a member organization and regional representative to the national Moving Forward Network.