Friday, August 10, 2007

Rural Calif. town has most polluted air in America

Often we hear people say they want to move to the countryside for the clean air and because they believe it’s healthier for their kids.

However, there’s one place where parents think twice about where they live and consider moving away from the rural area for the sake of the their kids.

“If you love your child, move,” Irma Garza said in a recent Associated Press story as she discussed the air pollution in her community.

Explaining why her town of Arvin, Calif. isn’t the healthiest, she related the experiences of her own family. “Sometimes you go outside and can hardly breathe. The worst part is in the summertime you can’t send your kids outside to play.”

There are lots of anecdotes by people in Arvin, a community of 15,000 people in Kern County that is about 20 miles southeast of Bakersfield, Calif., and nearly 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The rural community that is scenic with a lot of fruit trees and grape vines has a fairly high level of poverty, and a large number of Hispanic farmworkers.

But this week smog regulators are concentrating more attention on this community and emphasizing why this area is unhealthy.

San Joaquin Valley’s Air Pollution Control District is attempting to find a way to deal with the community being identified as having the most polluted air in the nation.

Pollution from as far away as San Francisco settles around Arvin. Far away from factories, freeways or other sources of pollution, “the pollutants that blow in from elsewhere get trapped by the mountains, causing airborne particles to coat homes and streets and blot out views of the nearby Tehachapi range on hot summer days,” reported AP.

“People complain of watery eyes, dry throats and inexplicable coughs, particularly in the summer, when temperatures can climb over 100 degrees and stay there for days,” said AP. “Arvin’s level of ozone, the primary component in smog, exceeded the amount considered acceptable by the EPA on an average of 73 days per year between 2004 and 2006. Second on the EPA’s list was the Southern California town of Crestline, at 65 days. The San Francisco Bay Area averaged just four days over the same period.”

One of the results is a higher asthma rate in the area, affecting 17.5 percent of children under 18 years old, compared to an average of 14.8 percent for California and 12.2 percent for the country.

Struggles continue by air quality boards and politicians on how and when can air pollution realistically be lowered or eliminated, but it appears this probably won’t happen within the next five years.

Meanwhile other California rural communities are probably wondering what will be the future for them as population — and air pollution — continues to grow and impacts them.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger can demand changes be made, but what is realistic in terms of time, resources and the rural communities receiving as much attention for their health problems caused by pollution beyond their geographical boundaries — and control.

The next generation in Arvin, which will be affected the most, awaits the answers.

Whether it can hold its breath — literally — until decisions are made and actions take place is another story.

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1 comment:

BHUVAN CHAND JUYAL said...

I have a blog containing good information on global warming. Ozone has doubled since the mid-19th century due to chemical emissions from vehicles, industrial processes and the burning of forests, the British climate researchers wrote. Carbon dioxide has also risen over that period. History of global warming is very deep since 1850.

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