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Latino Briefing on Los Angeles Region Air Pollution

Business activities of transportation and manufacturing are core contributors to air pollution, which is significantly decreasing health in California. Your help is needed...

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Torrance Daily Breeze Op-Ed: Region can't breathe easy
Sunday, December 30, 2007
By California Sen. Jenny Oropeza

We are killing our children by poisoning the air they breathe.

At the same time, it comes as no surprise that those living closest to pollution sources like congested freeways, refineries and the ports also are the ones most likely to believe regional air pollution is a problem and are more willing than most to support paying for improvements, according to some of California's top policy experts.

Here is what we know:

Despite improvements, too many Californians remain exposed to the most toxic air in the nation. This is especially true for those who live in low-income communities dominated by people of color. Sadly, 80 percent of Latinos live in areas that fail to meet federal Environmental Protection Agency air quality standards, as do 65 percent of African-Americans and 57 percent of whites.

Daily exposure to diesel exhaust from airports, seaports, trucks and trains inevitably creates negative long-term health effects. It cannot be proved that nearly 50 years of inhaling these toxic fumes caused my cancer. But studies show that particulate concentrations in the air cause dire health effects, including respiratory illness, choking asthma and increased hospitalization rates.

In conclusion, increasing population, economic growth, dramatic increases in vehicle-miles driven, among other factors, make it nearly impossible to cut pollution. Sadly, unless we do something to halt or reduce these levels, we will continue to harm, even kill, our children.

As we consider possible legislation in 2008, we know we cannot make substantive progress without a mandate from the public. For the sake of cleaner air, clearer skies and a healthier future for all, please join us in protecting our children.

State Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Carson, is one of the highest-ranking Latinos in the Legislature and chairs the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee. Her Web site is EXCERPT from Senator Oropeza's opinion piece. Read more.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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