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State Agency Votes On Diesel Rules

Audio

Aired 4/19/09

A California agency is expected to vote Friday on new rules that would reduce toxic exhaust from diesel vehicles starting in 2011.  KPBS Environmental Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

The California Air Resources Board says diesel truck pollution has been estimated to account for 70 percent of the cancer risk from the air we breathe and causes about 4,500 deaths each year in the state.

Bonnie Holmes-Gen is with the American Lung Association of California.

She says soot from trucks and buses is the number one source of toxic diesel pollution in California.

Holmes-Gen: And that adds up to about $40 billion in health-care related costs, including the costs of early deaths.  And that also includes the costs of illnesses.

From asthma to emphysema and lung cancer.

Holmes-Gen says the proposed rules are expected to save more than 9,400 lives and cut billions of dollars in health costs each year.

Joy Williams with the National City-based Environmental Health Coalition says the diesel exhaust especially hurts low-income neighborhoods, children and the elderly.

Williams: Communities that are near freeways and that have higher levels of truck traffic due to warehousing and other industries are getting more diesel and are at higher risk. And so are the truck drivers themselves.

She says a new study shows Teamsters who drive trucks have higher death rates from lung cancer than Teamsters who work in other jobs.

The trucking industry says the new rules would be too costly.

But California would provide $1 billion in incentives to help trucking companies upgrade their fleets.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

 

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