GASPING FOR A SOLUTION AQMD LAUNCHES PROBE INTO TOXIC AIR POLLUTANTS IN NW VALLEY AREAS.Byline: Kerry Cavanaugh Staff Writer
Regulators have opened investigations into the sources of air pollution in 200 of the the region's most-contaminated neighborhoods - including areas of Sun Valley and Glendale - in an unprecedented program to reduce the cancer risk to residents.
The investigations are one part of a 25-point plan adopted last month by the South Coast Air Quality Management District The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), formed in 1976, is the air pollution agency responsible mainly for regulating stationary sources of air pollution for most of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside County, and all of Orange county. to cut toxic emissions from factories, auto shops and metal finishers - businesses often clustered in low-income communities.
``You drive through these communities, and it's obvious: There's nowhere you can look that there's not a pollution source,'' said Joseph Lyou, director of the California Environmental Rights Alliance, who helped write the 25-point plan.
Toxic air pollutants pollutants
see environmental pollution. are known to cause cancer over long-term exposure. Although often invisible and odor-free, they can trigger headaches, nausea and respiratory problems.
The plan includes rules to cut toxic contaminants from metal finishers, auto body shops and private diesel-fueled fleets. The district will impose more strict measures on polluters that locate next to schools and will study ways to reduce odors Odors
Medicine. the absence of the sense of smell; olfactory anesthesia. Also called anosphrasia. — anosmic, adj.
bad breath; an unpleasant odor emanating from the mouth. from particularly smelly smell·y
adj. smell·i·er, smell·i·est Informal
Having a noticeable, usually unpleasant or offensive odor.
[smellier, smelliest businesses.
And the district will focus research, enforcement, community outreach and education on the 200 dirtiest one-square-kilometer areas in the basin.
Over the next six months, regulators will drive around the neighborhoods, identify polluters and meet with business owners and residents. The goal is to figure out ways to cut toxic emissions - through stepped-up inspections, retraining re·train
tr. & intr.v. re·trained, re·train·ing, re·trains
To train or undergo training again.
re·train businesses to pollute pol·lute
1. To make unfit for or harmful to living things, especially by the addition of waste matter; contaminate.
2. To make less suitable for an activity, especially by the introduction of unwanted factors. less or offering financial incentives to upgrade equipment.
Community activists say they're happy for the attention but want to see action.
``They say they are going to investigate (toxic contamination), but we already know it's here,'' said Ellen Mackey, an East Valley Coalition member and Sun Valley resident. ``We really want to see some teeth added.''
But the business community fears it will face more regulations, even though vehicles create 90 percent of the toxic risk, and worry the plan could have grave repercussions repercussions npl → répercussions fpl
repercussions npl → Auswirkungen pl on economic growth, especially in low-income areas.
``I see an unintended consequence For the 1996 novel by John Ross, see .
Unintended consequences are situations where an action results in an outcome that is not (or not only) what is intended. The unintended results may be foreseen or unforeseen, but they should be the logical or likely results of the of this program is to divert business from coming into certain communities because they are considered high-risk,'' said Bill LaMarr, director of the California Small Business Alliance.
The plan to tackle the worst areas is part of the AQMD's efforts to ensure environmental justice, or the principle that everyone has the right to a clean and healthy environment regardless of race, income or location.
For years, residents and regulators have known intuitively that the region's dramatic cuts in air pollution are not felt equally across the basin.
Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez, D-San Fernando, notes that little has been done to address the cumulative impacts of polluters in the northeast San Fernando Valley San Fernando Valley
Valley, southern California, U.S. Northwest of central Los Angeles, the valley is bounded by the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountains and the Simi Hills. , which is bordered by freeways and peppered with heavy industry.
``You can't blame one single polluter, but we understand the effects of having a landfill, methane gas burners, a pet crematorium cre·ma·to·ri·um
n. pl. cre·ma·to·ri·ums or cre·ma·to·ri·a
A furnace or establishment for the incineration of corpses.
pl -riums or , a wood chipper chipper Drug slang An occasional user of illicit drugs. See Recreational drug use Tobacco A popular term for a person who smokes < 5 cigarettes/day, who may be resistant to nicotine dependence or addiction, and often born to non-smoking parents. in the community,'' said Montanez, who chairs the Assembly's select committee on environmental justice. ``That is creating a very real negative effect in people's lives.''
An extensive study of toxic air pollutants and cancer risk completed in 1999 proved it. The district monitored 30 toxics throughout the basin and plotted the cancer risk based on exposure over 6,000 one-square-kilometer cells. The maps showed residents near the harbor, busy freeway interchanges and highly industrial areas were at the greatest risk.
Residents living near Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. Harbor, for example, face a risk of developing cancer from toxic air contaminants that is about 10 times higher than those who live in Malibu.
In January 2002, the AQMD AQMD Air Quality Management District
AQMD Action Quake Map Depot brought together a panel of environmentalists, business representatives and regulators to devise a strategy for cutting toxics in the dirtiest areas. The result was a 25-point policy paper that was adopted as a plan in September.
Among the first steps will be an on-the-ground investigation of the 200 high-risk cells - 100 cells with the highest cancer risk from toxic from air pollution from vehicles, planes and ships and the 100 cells with the highest cancer risk from dry cleaners, refineries and auto shops, which are stationary polluters.
AQMD staff members are now developing strategy for visiting the high-risk areas in the next six months, said Jill Whynot, planning and rules manager.
``We're going to try and identify what might causing that risk and find out what we can do to reduce that risk,'' she said.
Much of the effort will focus on the harbor areas, which have the highest cancer risk, presumably pre·sum·a·ble
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster. because of the diesel engines on ships, diesel cargo-moving equipment and truck traffic. Diesel emissions make up 70 percent of the cancer risk from air contaminants, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the 1999 study.
In the Valley, neighborhoods in the southern end of Sun Valley and southern Glendale are on the top 100 list for stationary sources of pollution. But the AQMD hasn't yet developed the parameters of the study areas or pinpointed the major causes of risk in those neighborhoods, Whynot said.
It may seem common sense to look at all the polluters in a community and the sum of their pollution, but regulators have never done it.
Normally, governments approve new polluters - factories, landfills, housing subdivisions - on a case-by-case basis. But residents are always affected by a clusters of sources. And officials rarely consider what the new polluter will add to the existing pollution.
That's led to schools next to auto-body shops and residential pockets in the middle of an industrial zone.
With the focus on the worst areas, activists hope regulators will take the blinders blind·er
1. blinders A pair of leather flaps attached to a horse's bridle to curtail side vision. Also called blinkers.
2. Something that serves to obscure clear perception and discernment. off.
``We're making sure that future decisions aren't as bad as past decisions, be that through creating buffer zones, strengthening pollution measures or cooperative pollution prevention programs with businesses,'' said Lyou. ``We've taken a small step in that direction.''
Kerry Cavanaugh, (818) 713-3746
INVESTIGATING CANCER RISK
SOURCE: Air Quality Management District and Daily News research