New report: At least 1 in 6 Illinois residents lives within a half mile of a mega-warehouse

Communities near warehouses face higher rates of air pollution associated with health problems like asthma and cardiovascular disease. 

April 23, 2024
Derek Schwabe,

(SPRINGFIELD, IL – April 23, 2024) A new report released Wednesday, April 24 by the Environmental Defense Fund traces the growth of mega-warehouses in Illinois communities, driven in-part by the e-commerce boom. Please find the full report here


What: Launch of new EDF report: Illinois Warehouse Boom

When: Wednesday, April 24, 2024, 11:00 AM Central Time

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

To set up an interview, please contact Derek Schwabe

Key report findings: 

  • At least 2 million Illinois residents – at least one in six – live within half a mile of a leased warehouse of at least 100,000 square feet. 
  • Of those, 127,000 are under age five and 251,100 are over age 64. 
  • At least 525,000 freight truck trips per day service a total of 2,401 leased mega warehouses across the state.
  • Hispanic/Latino populations are 195% more likely to live within half a mile of a warehouse than would be expected, based on statewide statistics. 
  • Black populations are 137% more likely to live within half a mile of a warehouse than would be expected, based on statewide statistics. 

"Illinois 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,” said Sam Becker, Project Manager with EDF’s Global Clean Air Initiative. “While the transition to zero-emission trucks is rapidly accelerating, Illinois decision-makers must take action so that those whose lives are most affected by diesel pollution reap the most health, environmental, and economic benefits of clean trucks. That begins with transparency around existing pollution,” added Neda Deylami, EDF’s Vehicle Electrification Manager.

Lawmakers and advocates call for legislative action

The report arrives as state legislators consider the Warehouse Pollution Insights Act, a bill that would bring greater transparency around mega-warehouses by requiring truck-attracting facilities to report information on warehouse ownership, truck trips and associated emissions to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). The bill would also expand IEPA’s truck and air quality monitoring capacity, with a focus on high-impact communities, and require new facilities to include charging infrastructure to support electric freight vehicles.

Other policy responses have also been proposed, such as the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rule, which would require truck manufacturers to sell an increasing percentage of zero-emission trucks and school buses. If implemented by 2027, the ACT rule could see approximately half of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles becoming zero-emission vehicles by 2050, according to a Northwestern University analysis supported by EDF.

A coalition of local advocacy groups commented on the report’s findings and the need for legislators to act. "Warehouse workers bear the brunt of toxic pollution from the trucks essential to transporting goods for the warehousing industry, in addition to facing other exploitative conditions. When the economy depends on warehouse workers showing up to work, they deserve wages that they can raise a family with, afford a home and accessible healthcare, time off, to be treated with dignity and respect and to work in safe working conditions that include the ability to breathe clean air,” commented Zhenya Polozova of Warehouse Workers for Justice, one of the organizations co-leading the coalition.

"Chicago has been the freight hub of North America for decades, and has only grown in importance in recent years. A huge part of that growth has been the warehousing boom across the state. Warehouses and distribution centers have been allowed to develop with impunity, often placed directly adjacent to housing, schools, parks and hospitals, and in communities that are already overburdened by environmental justice issues. This report shows how the negative externalities of warehouses disproportionately impact communities of color throughout the state, and highlights the urgent need for reform," said José Miguel Acosta-Córdova, Transportation Justice Program Manager at Little Village Environmental Justice.

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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