Tag Archives: air quality

RUSD UCR Hold Meeting For New STEM High School Project

Save The Date! Tuesday September 25, 2018

It’s time to get informed and organized. It’s critical to show up and bring your questions.

This project will alter the fabric of the neighborhood. It will bring traffic that cannot be mitigated.
So it’s up to us to drive the conversation about mitigation.

Riverside Unified School District and UCR will be holding the first of two community meetings to discuss the proposed RUSD STEM High School on Tuesday, September 25.

 The meeting will be held at 6:00 pm in room J-102 of the Bannockburn Village, located at 3637 Canyon Crest Dr, Riverside, CA 92507

The Regents of the University of California, on behalf of UC Riverside are partnering with the Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) to propose a ground lease of University-owned Glen Mor Intramural Fields on East Campus for the purpose of constructing a new RUSD STEM High School serving grades 9 through 12.

UCR STEM High School Site Proposal

The RUSD STEM High School will be a magnet school for 800 students (half full-time and half part-time) who are pursuing their interests and aptitudes in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The High School would consist of classrooms, administrative office space, a multi-use discovery center, fabrication lab, food service, lecture facilities, a fitness center, outdoor learning areas and associated parking and circulation.

There will be a follow up meeting on November 1st.

For more information on the project, visit: http://ae.ucr.edu/rusd_stem_high_school_958802-community_meeting_flyer_9-7-18_b.pdf

For more information, please contact: Ana Gonzalez Director II, Planning Development Riverside Unified School District (951) 788‐7496 x84003

Raoul Amescua, ExecuƟve Director Real Estate Services University of California, Riverside (951) 827‐2433

Jerrod Walters, Senior Planner Auxiliary Services / Capital Asset Strategies University of California, Riverside (951) 827‐6955

or Jeff Kraus UCR Office of Government and Community Relations (951) 827-7073

Traffic Related Air Pollution Risk Is Greater For Minority And Low Income Population

Environmental Justice Journal

New Rochelle, NY, July 1, 2015—Low-income and minority populations disproportionately reside near roadways with high traffic volumes and consequently face increased exposure to traffic-related air pollutants (TRAP) and their associated health effects.

New case studies demonstrate the feasibility of incorporating strategies to reduce TRAP exposure into the building design and site development for near-highway housing and school developments in the planning stages, as described in an article in Environmental Justice, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article will be available free on the Environmental Justice website until August 1, 2015.


Health Study Reveals Elevated Cancers and Children’s Asthma

BNSF Railyard Health Study Released

Health Study Reveals Elevated Cancers and Children’s Asthma


   This week, Loma Linda University unveiled the results of the BNSF Railyard Health Study with alarming findings.  Several elevated cancer clusters and a 47% rate of asthma and asthma like symptoms for nearby school children!

  The study consisted of 3 separate parts:

1)  a review of California Cancer Registry for

Region 5;

2)Children’s Respiratory Health Screening and

3)  Adult Household Study.


1)    The Cancer Registry Review

For all cancers there is a 23% elevations for white males and a 10% overall elevation.

For specific Cancers:

 Breast Cancer30% elevation among Hispanic females

 Lung/bronchus cancer:

  • 78% statistical excess among females in the high risk area (residents closest to the railyard)
  •  34% elevated level for white females and 37% increase in white males throughout the study area
     Colon/rectal cancer:
  • 44% increase among males
     Pancreatic Cancer:
  • 43% elevation for both sexes

The 78% elevation in lung cancer for females in the high risk area is especially alarming given it is controlled for smoking.In this area there is a lower level of smokers than expected.In fact the majority of the women in this area were not smokers and never have been.Smoking does not account for this level of cancer.

2)  Children’s Respiratory Health Study

1,066 (74% participation) in two schools – Exposure school (ES) near the railyard and a control school (CS) 7 miles from the area and away from the railyard, but still in a polluted area from busy traffic corridors.

Conducted PEF (lung function indicator), FENO(a marker of airway inflammation) and anthropometric measurements

  • 47% of ES children demonstrated asthma or asthma like symptoms
  • ES children experienced a significant 59% increase in the prevalence of reduced PEF compared to the CS children.
  • 70% of parents did not know their children had asthma.

3)  The adult household study

The adult household study interviewed 1,075 people in the winter/spring of 2012.  The study included a survey, two respiratory tests (Peak Expiratory Flow (PEF) and airway inflammation and indoor and outdoor air sampling.  It compared an Exposed area (A & B); a high exposure area ( zone A, closest to the railyard); Zone B, moderate Exposure area; and a background area not in the railyard impact area as defined by the Health Risk Assessment conducted in 2008 by California Air Resources Board.

While findings were borderline significant …“a consistent trend of increased prevalence of adverse outcomes was observed from the Moderate to the High exposure regions. Across endpoints and exposure levels, elevations ranged from small to moderate.”

Demographic information was equally alarming.

  • 83.90% Hispanic
  • 60% make less than $10,000 per year
  • 75.39% under age 40
  • 60% do not have health insurance; cannot afford medical care; do not use Emergency Room services – leaving them to over the counter drugs and home remedies as their primary health care mode.


Contact Name: Ericka Flores or Graciela Larios

Organization Name: Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice

Phone Number: 951-360-8451

E-mail:ericka.f@ccaej.org or graciela.l@ccaej.org

So What do we do about it?

Clearly this is a community in desparate need of help.

CCAEJ has installed high performance air filters in 7 schools giving a reprieve to the children from the smothering pollution.  As long as they are indoors — at school.  But what happens when they go home or play outside?

Are they to hide inside? As one resident stated so elequently last night,“Now it’s documented.

The blame lies squarely on one person’s lap –Warren Buffet, who owns BNSF!

This multi-billionaire has ade his wealth at the expense of our families. When is he going to step forward and clean up his act?

The technology is here; they’re using at the ports and around the world, why not here in an Bernardino?” Rudi Flores, Westside resident

And where are the agencies whose job it is to protect us? While millions are spent on green lawnmowers, less toxic paints, automotive supplies, residents of the westside are dying.

Attention is given at the ports of LA and Long Beach, while San Bernardino, whose pollution levels are higher, sufficate under a blanket of deadly pollution.

An even bigger question, Where are our local elected officials? Not one of them was present last night to hear these results – not the Mayor; not the City Council; not the school board members; not our County Supervisors; Assemblymembers, Senate or Congressional members.

What are You — our elected officials and public agencies– going to do about this?

In light of the horrendous findings of the health study CCAEJ asks that you join with the residents of the Westside and demand action! Call or email the following leaders and demand they step forward to stop this deadly situation!

Mayor Carey Davis City of San Bernardino Davis_Ca@sbcity.org (909) 384-5133

City Councilwoman, Virginia Marquez Marquez_Vi@sbcity.org (909) 384-5268

Mary Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board mnichols@arb.gov  (916) 322-5840

Warren Buffet, Berkshire Hathaway, berkshire@berkshirehathaway.com or  twitter(@WarrenBuffett

Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice  (CCAEJ

PO Box 33124 Riverside, CA 92519 951-360-8451 www.ccaej.org


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Air Quality Monitor Near I-5 In Anaheim Finds Higher Pollution Level

By Tony Barboza

LA Times

The first permanent air quality monitor near a Southern California freeway has detected elevated pollution levels, a finding that will increase pressure on state and local officials to address health risks facing nearly 1 million people in the region living near busy transportation corridors.

Readings from a new monitoring station 30 feet from Interstate 5 in Anaheim show concentrations of nitrogen dioxide air pollution that are 60% higher than the region as a whole, the South Coast Air Quality Management District said.

The measurements were collected under new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules that require air quality monitoring along the nation’s busiest roadways.

Monitoring instruments have typically been placed away from major roads and pollution sources because they are intended to gauge regional air quality. Now, the EPA is ordering local regulators to measure and factor in the dirtier air being breathed by tens of millions of people across the country who live within a few hundred feet of a major road.

The data will be valuable to local planning officials, who must consider the environmental impacts of siting developments near traffic, and give more leverage to clean air advocates.

Environmentalists and community activists, who have pressed for near-road monitors for years, vowed to use the information to fight freeway expansion projects, push for steeper emissions cuts and oppose development near freeways, where less expensive real estate is often sought for schools and affordable housing.

“For those of us that think that a lot of attention needs to be paid to people that live near the freeway, this is very powerful evidence that we’re right,” said David Pettit, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The higher pollution levels did not surprise health experts. For almost 20 years scientists have warned that people who live within a few blocks of major roadsand highways are at higher risk of a variety of health problems because they breathe more polluted air.

But the results validate the concerns of many Southern Californians who live, work and go to school near heavy traffic.

“Many of us have been exposed to this for years and it’s a normal way of life for us and that’s sad,” said Thinh Luong, who teaches social science at Mark Keppel High School in a classroom that sits about 100 feet from the 10 Freeway in Alhambra. “It’s about time they start to take our quality of life seriously.”

Starting this year, air quality officials in more than 100 big cities across the country are required to install monitoring devices near major roads and use them to determine whether the air meets federal health standards for nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and fine particle pollution.

South Coast air regulators said the pollution levels found near traffic in Anaheim were not high enough to violate federal air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide. But the smog-forming gas is an indicator of other, more worrisome pollutants that are not regulated, including ultrafine particles that can deposit deep in the lungs and enter the bloodstream and brain.

Air pollution has dropped sharply in recent decades because of tighter emissions standards, but higher levels remain in neighborhoods close to freeways, where the mixture of harmful combustion gases and particles from diesel trucks and automobile tailpipes can raise pollution concentrations five to 10 times higher than surrounding areas.

Scientific studies link air pollution from major roadways to a growing list of health problems, including pre-term births, reduced lung function in children, asthma, heart attacks and premature death.

“This has big costs,” said Rob McConnell, a professor of preventive medicine at USC whose research has attributed 8% of childhood asthma cases in Los Angeles County to living near a major road, with each case costing families an estimated $4,000 a year in healthcare and other expenses.

The Anaheim air monitoring station is the first of four required in the South Coast basin. It is one of 36 stations that measure air pollution levels in the nation’s smoggiest region, which includes the most populated areas of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

The monitor is near Disneyland, downwind of a congested stretch of freeway where an average of 272,000 vehicles pass by each day.

South Coast air district officials say they have little power to reduce exposure to pollution from traffic because only state and federal regulators have jurisdiction over vehicle emissions. The district can, however, provide incentive funds for cleaner engines and pay for filtration systems for schools.

The California Air Resources Board advises against building homes, schools, playgrounds, day care centers and medical facilities within 500 feet of freeways and high-traffic roads. But those guidelines are voluntary because local officials control land-use decisions.

Los Angeles city Planning Commissioner Maria Cabildo urged caution with the new readings.

Government officials must balance air quality concerns with the need to build homes in low-income communities, said Cabildo, who is president of the East LA Community Corp., a nonprofit advocacy group and affordable housing developer. “I don’t think that we should have a knee-jerk reaction to this data and stop all development near freeways.”

McConnell, the USC professor, said planners should consider the health consequences of approving high-density developments near transportation corridors.

“If we build a lot of dense housing along freeways now, knowing what we do, we’re likely to make a lot of people sick,” he said. “People will look back 50 years from now and wonder: What was wrong with us?”

Twitter: @tonybarboza

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

New Affordable Freeway Close Housing Not A Just Solution To Health Effects Of Air Pollution

From Shelterforce, the journal of affordable housing and community building

Living in the Buffer

Preventing the development of new affordable housing in close proximity to freeways isn’t a just solution to the health effects of LA’s air pollution. By Jan Breidenbach and Jesus Herrera

Smart Code Smart Growth High Density GrowthPossible solutions for cutting down on pollution involve rerouting goods traffic away from residential areas. (Photo by Jan Breidenbach)

Boyle Heights is a predominantly Latino neighborhood east of downtown Los Angeles, presenting organizers with similar challenges as other older, minority and low-income communities—meeting the need for affordable housing, better jobs, and quality of life, revitalizing an older community while keeping a sharp eye out for potential gentrification. It is also a neighborhood where community development organizers face a new challenge: integrating both economic and environmental justice when the resolution of an injustice in one arena can possibly exacerbate injustice in the other.

Five major freeways barreled through Boyle Heights over a period of two decades, slicing and dicing it so that people and goods could move more easily in and out of downtown and back and forth between the nearby industrial areas. The freeway structures dominate the physical space of the community; even more importantly, the residue from their traffic creates a toxic soup that fouls the air and makes people sick. Policymakers are becoming more attuned to these environmental concerns, but economic justice—specifically the need for more affordable housing—is paying the price.

Where We Live, What We Breathe

In 2008, the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission announced it would no longer invest its redevelopment housing funds in projects within a 500-foot “buffer” zone of any freeway. Given the way funding works, this decision meant this land was now effectively off-limits for affordable housing—even for quality construction with pollution mitigation. Market-rate housing, which doesn’t require city funding, was not affected.

Smart Growth Wolf In Sheep's ClothingThis makes no sense, says Maria Cabildo, director of East LA Community Corporation (ELACC), a CDC that has worked in the community for over 15 years. “This is a poor neighborhood with a lot of substandard housing. Quality affordable housing that has been mitigated for air pollution could present a much better option than lower-quality market housing outside the buffer.” Cabildo is concerned that more limitations on available land in a city both already built-out and focused on higher-density, transit-oriented development (TOD) will drive up prices and limit affordable housing everywhere, not just in the buffer.

Linda Wheaton, assistant director of intergovernmental affairs at California’s Dept. of Housing and Community Development, agrees: “There is a danger down this road that low-income people will suffer the most. There are more of them in buffer to begin with, often living in low-quality, unmitigated housing. Higher quality, mitigated housing will only be available to those who can afford market rent.”

To be clear, neither is questioning the science that underpins the decision. In the 1990s, researchers from the University of Southern California started testing the lung development of children living at varying distances from major roadways in eight Southern California communities. The results are not pretty. Residential proximity to high-volume traffic is associated with increased risk of low birth weight and higher rates of asthma, respiratory problems, and cancers. Importantly, while traffic pollution includes a range of gases and vapors, one of the most damaging contaminants is “particulate matter” or PM, an ultrafine dust created by the wear and tear of brakes and tires. PM easily enters pulmonary air sacs and, from there, moves into the blood stream. The long-term challenge is that, while great strides are being made in emissions reduction, even all-electric vehicles ride on rubber tires and brake in traffic.

Most—but not all—of the studies made another important finding that drives the land use policy responses: concentrations of traffic-related pollutants diminish dramatically with distance from the road. There is general agreement that severe health risk is reduced by over 60 percent at about 300 feet and by 80 percent at just under 1,000 feet. Splitting the difference, in 2003, the state legislature approved a statute banning future school construction within a 500-foot buffer of any freeway or major roadway. Since then, the majority of land use recommendations have proposed limiting “sensitive” land uses—child care and senior facilities, schools, and housing—in this same buffer.

Organizing Responses—Choosing Justice? Choosing Health? Choosing Life?

LA County’s 2008 decision is now basically moot—its redevelopment funds are being taken back by the State of California to help in its fiscal crisis, so it has enough for only one or two more projects. The issue, however, is not going away. This past year the LA County Dept. of Public Health proposed language essentially banning all future housing in the 500-foot buffer and requiring mitigation for projects within a 1,500-foot buffer, as part of the county’s updated General Plan. The Dept. of Regional Planning ultimately rejected this, opting for language that encourages mitigation for land uses in “proximity” to a freeway as opposed to a specific distance. According to regional planner Connie Chung, that choice was made not out of lack of concern for the air quality, but out of concern over the legal and policy complications of denying long-term land use and the desire to move toward mitigation.

CEQA Handbook – South Coast Air Quality Management

Rules and Regulations – South Coast Air Quality .

Air Quality Management Plans

Community activists in Boyle Heights and elsewhere raise legitimate concerns about a strict land use approach to the problem, arguing that it places them between an economic justice rock and an environmental justice hard place. They are very aware that their community endures greater traffic pollution than more affluent, white neighborhoods, up to two times as much. While this is not a surprise, given that many major freeways tore through low-income communities to avoid disrupting wealthier ones, ELACC community organizer Jorge Villanueva argues for a deeper analysis and more comprehensive approach. “Our office is a converted residence and it’s in the buffer. Our neighbors live here. We want to get to the root cause of all the pollution and do something about it.” ELACC’s neighbors are not alone. Of L.A. County’s 88 cities, 68 have at least one freeway inside city limits. According to Chung’s office there are over 650,000 people presently living within the 500-foot buffer to freeways. Bans on future development do not help them.

Healthy CitiesWorking with public health researchers at both University of Southern California and UCLA and in coalition with other east-side community groups, ELACC organizers are training their staff and members to do air monitoring—in the buffer, on their commercial streets, and in their homes. They understand that it is not only the freeways that are making them sick, but also the cumulative effect of freeways, street traffic (including goods movement), and industrial pollution.

When it comes to toxic air, University of California–Irvine assistant professor Douglas Houston points out that “building standards and site design could potentially be improved to help mitigate air pollution impacts.” Approaches could include filtration, building orientation, vegetation, and sound walls, and, as Villanueva suggests, even rerouting goods movement traffic.

E2 Justice

The injustice that planned and built freeways without regard for neighbors and neighborhoods has burdened us with major economic and environmental consequences. Our responses need to be thoughtful and aware of potential unintended consequences, for it is now abundantly clear that our land-use goals may be in conflict with our health goals and, indeed our health. Smart growth, new urbanism, and infill development are land use tools proposed as ways to revitalize cities, promote development, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Land use as climate change mitigation is moving forward at breakneck (for land use!) speed in California. In the city of Los Angeles, 80 percent of all future development will be channeled into transit areas. There are already serious concerns about displacement and gentrification in TOD; the issue of the buffer adds to these when we realize that a number of proposed transit lines are adjacent to (or even in the middle of) freeways.

Few of us would choose a freeway as our closest neighbor, but there are many reasons we live where we do. Income and racial discrimination have confined much low-cost housing to areas with the most pollution and placed it near noxious and dangerous uses. When it comes to housing and roadways, community development activists and organizers have the opportunity—and responsibility—to combine our struggles around land use and air pollution into struggles for economic and environmental justice. As Cabildo says, “We didn’t go to the freeways, the freeways came to us.” They are in our neighborhoods; now we have to fight to stay healthy in spite of them.

Jan Breidenbach is a long-time housing advocate and teaches housing policy at the University of Southern California. Jesus Herrera is a graduate student in Planning at USC.

More information about Jan Breidenbach and Jesus Herrera

Drive Through Windows Drive A Hole Through Air Quality

Massive Lines at Chik-a-filWarehouses seem to get all the press when it comes to negative air quality impacts. It’s time we started looking at the impacts from fast food drive through lanes, especially when they’re next to residential properties.

Air quality regulations require a five hundred foot separation between sensitive receptors – schools, parks, day care, hospitals, dormitories and a project or sites that produce emissions -warehouses, freeways, refineries.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District is tracking freeway pollution in Anaheim and Fontana. In Southern California, nearly 3 million people live within 550 yards of a freeway. Years of studies have found increased health risks — for cancer, heart attacks, asthma, lung impairment, birth defects and autism, among other ailments.

The Feds have spent years resisting the installation of monitoring stations to scientifically measure actual harm because commercial interests didn’t want to risk having to change their operations or risk their profits. Though apparently it’s ok to risk the public health.

The cost of dirty air is born by the most vulnerable — the children.

The super sized combo we should be paying attention to is drive through emissions and health costs. Do you want some fine particle pollution with that burger? More people die on days when fine-particle pollution is high. 

One would question the wisdom of permitting drive thru lanes in residential neighborhoods. Eco-friendly McDonalds was honored for it’s groundbreaking LEED Certification but no one looked at the context of double drive thru lanes on the other side of the block wall separating it from a residential neighborhood.

In the further pursuit of operational efficiency and profit, McDonald’s is seeking even faster service at the drive through.

Drive through patrons at McDonald’s according industry publication QSR’s annual survey, are now waiting 189.49 seconds between the time they order food and pick it up at the window. That is McDonald’s slowest time in the 15-year history of the survey.

That places McCalorie  third behind perennial survey champ Wendy’s (133.63 seconds) and Taco Bell (158.03 seconds) and just ahead of Burger King (198.48 seconds ) and Chick-fil-A (203.88 seconds).

Imagine people in some parts of the world complaining if it took more than three minutes to prepare, package and deliver a full month’s supply of calories unless that part of the world is sucking in exhaust from every car with a driver tapping an anxious toe.

It seems we just can’t get enough of drive through restaurants. A crowd gathered for the new In-N_Out in Rialto and we can expect another to open at Iowa and University once the Coco’s lease is up.

Maybe we should do some calculation on the amount of carcinogens and fine particle pollution that’s about to be unleashed on the East Side Neighborhood. What does one hundred eighty nine seconds per idling car at Micky D’s, plus double drive through lanes for In-N-Out and no doubt somewhat longer idle times actually add up to in air quality health impacts?

We have the makings of another health crime in progress. If this is what healthy cities initiatives look like then I think we have some more work to do.







Other portions of this story include:

POLLUTION: Microscopic particles can cause internal havoc

HEALTH: Children are more vulnerable to air pollution effects

CLEAN AIR: Reducing air pollution extends lives

CLEAN AIR: A promise still elusive for Inland region

TRUCKING: A job opportunity for former dairyman

AIR QUALITY: Warehouse plan closely watched

Dirty Air Increases Hospitalizations and Substantially Raises Medical Costs For Public And Private Healthcare Insurers – See more at: http://kresge.org/news/new-rand-study-finds-dirty-air-increases-hospitalizations-and-substantially-raises-medical-cost#sthash.aqhGRnrK.dpuf
Dirty Air Increases Hospitalizations and Substantially Raises Medical Costs For Public And Private Healthcare Insurers – See more at: http://kresge.org/news/new-rand-study-finds-dirty-air-increases-hospitalizations-and-substantially-raises-medical-cost#sthash.aqhGRnrK.dpuf
Dirty Air Increases Hospitalizations and Substantially Raises Medical Costs For Public And Private Healthcare Insurers – See more at: http://kresge.org/news/new-rand-study-finds-dirty-air-increases-hospitalizations-and-substantially-raises-medical-cost#sthash.aqhGRnrK.dpuf


Dirty Air Increases Hospitalizations and Substantially Raises Medical Costs For Public And Private Healthcare Insurers – See more at: http://kresge.org/news/new-rand-study-finds-dirty-air-increases-hospitalizations-and-substantially-raises-medical-cost#sthash.aqhGRnrK.dpuf