Release 00-18
July 26, 2000
CONTACT: Jerry Martin
(916) 322-2990
Richard Varenchik
(626) 575-6730

ARB Announces New Community Health Program

        Sacramento – Today the California Air Resources Board (ARB) announced its new Community Health Program, studying the influence of air toxics and other air pollutants within neighborhoods.

        ARB Chairman Dr. Alan Lloyd, said, ”Studying air quality in neighborhoods will help us better understand the influence of air toxics on a much smaller area.  Public health, especially that of our children, the elderly and sensitive populations will greatly benefit from the individual approach to determining the public health risks of toxics.”

        The Community Health Program combines the work of several ongoing programs including the ARB’s indoor air, air toxics and neighborhood assessment programs.  The new program will use new monitoring and survey techniques developed as part of the ARB’s research efforts in the San Diego community of Barrio Logan.  In addition, for the first time, the ARB will address strategies to reduce the cumulative effects of exposure from multiple sources of air toxics.

        As a way to ensure that California communities have clean, healthy air, the ARB has instituted the Community Health Program to address exposure to numerous air toxic sources affecting specific neighborhoods.  Until now, toxics data has only been collected on a regional level.  However, the Community Health Program will also focus on micro-regions where the health risks from individual sources can be evaluated.

         As part of the program, the ARB will conduct a series of new health studies that will focus on children to ensure a margin of safety for infants and children, as is required by SB 25 (Escutia).  These studies will focus on multiple pollutants, children’s asthma and the effects of air pollution on those with heart disease.
        The ARB already has several related studies in the works.  The Children’s Health Study is designed to assess the health effects of long-term air pollution exposure of children living in Southern California.  The study includes 5,000 children in 12 communities who have been followed annually for up to eight years.  The study focuses on how air pollutants affect lung function.

        Another project is about to begin in Fresno, focusing on the impact air pollution exposure has on childhood asthma.  The overall goal is to determine the affects of particulate matter, in combination with other pollutants, on asthmatic children.

        The ARB has also funded a study to see how short and long term exposure to particulate matter affects the development and progression of cardiovascular disease in the elderly.  The study group is 4,000, mostly elderly men and women, who have been followed since 1990.  The first results of this study should be available in early 2001.

        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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