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newsrel -- ARB Reveals West Oakland Health Risk Assessment

Posted: 19 Mar 2008 18:38:15
Please consider the following Air Resources Board press release
announcing the release of the West Oakland health risk
assessment.  You can review the release here:

Thank You
Dimitri Stanich

Release 08-21
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, March 19, 2008					

(916) 322-2990			

ARB reveals West Oakland health risk assessment
Diesel emissions from freeway trucks are major contributors to
poor air quality          
OAKLAND – The Air Resources Board presented today at a public
forum the preliminary results from a comprehensive health risk
assessment study for the community of West Oakland.  The report
shows an increased potential cancer risk due to diesel
particulate matter emissions from trucks traveling on nearby
freeways and marine vessel traffic in the San Francisco Bay Area
unrelated to the Port of Oakland.    

The study, developed in collaboration with the Bay Area Air
Quality Management District, the Maritime Port of Oakland and
Union Pacific Railroad, reveals that the estimated lifetime
potential cancer risk for residents of West Oakland from
exposure to diesel emissions is about 1,200 excess cancers per
million people.  The analysis covers 3.1 million people who
reside in the affected area of 3,800 square miles. 

While diesel trucks account for a majority of the risk in West
Oakland resulting in about 850 potential cancer cases per
million or 70 percent, port operations account for an estimated
lifetime potential cancer risk of 200 excess cancer cases per
million, or about 15 percent of the total.  Union Pacific
railyard emissions amount to a potential cancer risk of about 40
excess cancer cases per million, or less than 5 percent and the
remaining 10 percent of risk comes from a variety of diesel
sources such as passenger trains and construction projects.

“This health risk assessment will provide the community the
focus and momentum needed to mobilize and combat air pollution,”
said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “We look forward to working
with community activists to converge on the main pollution
culprits, such as trucks motoring on nearby freeways, affecting
a growing and vibrant West Oakland.”
In the development of the ship emissions, ARB staff used
transponder data (continuously reports ship location) to more
accurate estimate where off-shore emissions are occurring.  For
the first time in a large risk assessment, a regional wind field
was generated using data from 30 onshore and 3 offshore weather
stations.  The CALPUFF model was used to estimate the ambient
concentration of diesel particulate matter.  This model is
capable of producing more precise results than the models used
in the past due to its ability to account for highly varying
wind fields and complex terrain.

Emissions from diesel particulate matter are associated with
causing a variety of health effects including premature death
and a number of heart and lung diseases. The study also
estimates the yearly non-cancer health impacts resulting from
exposure to port-related diesel particulate matter emissions in
the area: 18 premature deaths (age 30 and older), 290 asthma
attacks, 2,600 days of work loss, and 15,000 minor restricted
activity episodes.  
Having identified diesel particulate matter as a toxic air
contaminant in 1998 due to its potential to cause cancer and
other respiratory problems, ARB has put in place stringent
regulations to curve the health risk to Californians.  The most
recent adopted regulations to limit diesel emissions affect
cargo handling equipment, transport refrigeration units, truck
idling, off-road equipment, harbor craft, ship auxiliary
engines, port drayage trucks and ships-at-berth.  Also, the
introduction of cleaner fuel for railroads and ships has
contributed to lower pollution around the ports and railyards.
Later this year, ARB will be considering proposed regulations
involving on-road heavy duty diesel vehicles (trucks and buses)
and ocean-going vessel main engines to further reduce diesel
soot.  State control measures will contribute to an approximate
decrease of 80 percent in harmful emissions by 2015.  
For more information on the West Oakland health risk assessment,
please visit

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California
Environmental Protection Agency.  ARB’s mission is to promote
and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources
through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing
and considering effects on the economy.  The ARB oversees all
air pollution control efforts in California to attain and
maintain health based air quality standards.

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