Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

In response to the Dec. 4 commentary by Tammi Swafford (“Yes To Cleaner Air But At What Cost”), the American Lung Association of California recognizes there are costs to businesses for upgrading and replacing trucks as a result of the state’s proposed truck and bus regulation, but these costs are far outweighed by the health benefits to truckers and the general public from prevention of deaths and illnesses.

Trucks and buses statewide are the single largest source of toxic diesel pollution in California, responsible for 4,500 premature deaths annually as well as $40 billion in health costs from premature deaths and illnesses including cancer, asthma, stroke, cardiovascular disease and various respiratory ailments.  Avoiding these high health costs from truck and bus pollution is especially important in poor economic times.

 Because truck drivers and others with routine diesel exposure have a much higher rate of lung and heart disease due to their increased exposure to diesel soot, the vehicle upgrades required by this regulation will especially benefit them.

 Diesel soot is also particularly harmful to vulnerable populations, including the elderly, children, and communities living nearby major sources of diesel soot such as busy roadways, truck distribution centers and ports. Recent studies link elevated particulate pollution to a significant decrease in lung growth and development in children.  

The California Air Resources Board is poised to make a critical and lifesaving decision on December 12th to adopt the truck and bus regulation and cut diesel soot pollution by over 80% by 2020.  Despite the economic downturn, the state has more incentive funding than ever before to help truck owners clean up their dirty diesel trucks through grants, loans and other financing assistance. CARB must base their decision on public health and adopt a strong regulation that will reduce toxic diesel pollution, benefit trucker’s health, reduce greenhouse gases, and save lives.

Bonnie Holmes-Gen
Senior Policy Director
American Lung Association of California

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