Latinos, African Americans, Asians and low-income people in California are breathing in significantly more tailpipe pollution than other demographic groups in the state, putting them at increased risk for health problems.
More than 9,000 Californians are dying prematurely every year because of the health effects of the kind of pollution emitted by diesel trucks and heavy equipment, according to a new study by the Air Resources Board, the state’s air quality regulator. The study is the first released by the state to claim that the microscopic particles emitted by engines burning diesel fuel actually cause early deaths, rather than simply being correlated with them.
A computer model that the Air Resources Board used to justify historic restrictions on diesel emissions from off-road construction equipment may have attributed twice as much pollution to those heavy trucks as they actually produce, according to interviews with ARB staff.
California’s Air Resources Board is coming under increasing pressure from construction industry contractors seeking to roll back regulations adopted three years ago to sharply reduce the amount of diesel pollution from big off-road tractors, scrapers and earth-movers. The agency has acknowledged that it underestimated the effects of the recession on diesel emissions and is also studying claims that assumptions in a faulty computer model further inflated estimates of pollution caused by the vehicles.