Monday, November 17, 2008

The Cost Of Bad Air

Two California State University professors, Jane V. Hall and Victor Brajer, just released a study that proves what we have all known for a long time: Dirty air has a high cost.

Nearly every resident of the Central Valley and South Coast region suffers from exposure to dirty air, and too many pay a tragic price: as many as 3,860 adults die prematurely each year due to air pollution in those two areas of the state, according to the study. (The South Coast region includes Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties; the Central Valley region stretches across Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare counties).

Because the pollution concentrations are highest in African American and Latino neighborhoods, those families suffer the most exposure to harmful air pollution particles, the findings show.

Meeting federal air quality standards would prevent those deaths, the study finds, and would result in:

• 1,950 fewer new cases of adult onset chronic bronchitis
• 3,517,720 fewer days of reduced activity in adults
• 2,760 fewer hospital admissions
• 141,370 fewer asthma attacks
• 1,259,840 fewer days of school absence
• 16,110 fewer cases of acute bronchitis in children
• 466,880 fewer lost days of work
• 2,078,300 fewer days of respiratory symptoms in children
• 2,800 fewer emergency room visits

Between the cost of medical care and the dollars spent on lost productivity, California spends nearly $28 billion in those two regions, the CSU Fullerton professors reported.

The study was released just as California air regulators begin discussing key air quality rules, including rules that would help clean up diesel exhaust from trucks and a plan to deal with climate change.

Recent Coverage:

Study: Calif. Dirty Air Kills More Than Car Crashes (AP)

Human cost of valley's dirty air: $6.3 billion (The Sacramento Bee)

Bad air costing state's economy billions (SF Chronicle)

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