The California Air Resources Board CARB) issued an outstanding report this week, Proposed Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Strategy, which provides a model for the Federal government and other states to improve public health and slow climate change,
In the report, the CARB details the ground-breaking work California has done to reduce black carbon, and proposes an approach to doing even more.
Black carbon is a potent climate change forcer which kills millions of people worldwide every year. In U.S. urban areas, diesel engine exhaust – primarily from diesel freight trucks, is the primary source of black carbon. Diesel exhaust black carbon is particularly insidious, because it is covered by as many as 40 carcinogenic and toxic compounds, and acts as a very effective toxin delivery system. When inhaled, the black carbon particles and their toxic payload is absorbed into the bloodstream, which delivers the poisons to every organ in the body, including the brain.
The World Health Organization recognizes diesel exhaust as a carcinogen, and in 2009, the U.S. EPA acknowledged that PM2.5 plays a “causal” role in premature death and cardiovascular effects, and a “likely causal” role in respiratory illness.
Since that time, dozens of research studies have linked particulate matter and diesel exhaust to a wide variety of illnesses, including asthma, alzheimer’s, autism, birth defects, dementia, lung damage in children, heart failure, strokes, and Parkinson’s disease
Eliminating diesel exhaust black carbon in the U.S. would save tens of thousands of lives annually, reduce asthma attacks in children, and slow global warming.
The State of California has done more than any other state in the U.S. to reduce black carbon, particularly from diesel exhaust. it has cut human-generated black carbon emissions by over 90 percent since the 1960’s, and “will virtually eliminate black carbon emissions from on-road diesel engines within 10 years.”
But, even as California has forced average pollution levels down, diesel exhaust black carbon pollution has remained a serious health problem in and near ports, rail yards, and freight corridors, as is the case in the rest of the country.
The CARB points out that this problem can be eliminated using existing technology – and they plan to make that happen.
“Further cutting black carbon emissions from the transportation sector and building a sustainable freight system would have health and economic benefits for communities in the East Bay, Southern California, and the Inland Empire along freight corridors and near ports and railyards where diesel particulate matter concentrations are highest. “
To learn more, check out the CARB report at Reducing Short-Lived Climate Pollutants in California, or sign up for their April 26 public workshop and webcast.
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