A two-week-old baby in Los Angeles has already been exposed to more toxic air pollution than the U.S. government says is an acceptable cancer risk over a lifetime. A study of California air pollution by the National Environmental Trust says that even if a child moves away from California, or if the air has been cleaned up by the time he or she reaches adulthood, “the potential (cancer) risk that a child rapidly accumulates in California from simply breathing will not go away.”
Children are more vulnerable to pollutants than adults because, pound for pound, they breathe more air, drink more water, eat more food and play outdoors more than adults.Diesel exhaust from trucks and cars, school buses, and farm and construction equipment is the worst source of air pollution. But chemicals emitted by dry cleaners and factories are also a major problem, as well as pesticides, adhesives and lubricant oils. The NET says, “The overwhelming policy implication of these findings can be reduced to one word: URGENCY.”
But you don?t have to live in LA to have a problem?you can find pollution even in our national parks. The Great Smoky Mountains is the nation’s most polluted national park, with air quality that?s as bad as Los Angeles.
After the Smokies, the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is the second most polluted, followed by Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California and Acadia National Park in Maine. The Smokies, on the Tennessee-North Carolina line, is the nation’s most popular park, with more than 9 million visitors a year. Park spokesman Bob Miller says area utilities are being made to cut down on pollution, “But the fact remains our air quality has not gotten better.”
Ozone levels in the Smokies have violated federal health standards more than 175 times since 1998, threatening the health of hikers and damaging 30 species of plants. Mountaintop clouds in the area can be as acidic as vinegar and mountain views that should be 77 miles, average only 14 miles in the summer.
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