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HIGH LEVELS OF TOXIC POLLUTANTS FOUND IN LOS ANGELES AIR


Visit Representative Henry A. Waxman's homepage for this report, earlier reports and background material, and information on the Clean Air Act.

Read related March 1, 1999 LA Times article

FOR RELEASE
March 1, 1999

For Further Information
Phil Schiliro 202-225-3976

HIGH LEVELS OF TOXIC POLLUTANTS FOUND IN LOS ANGELES AIR

Today, Rep. Henry A. Waxman released the first report to analyze the levels of hazardous air pollutants in the air in Los Angeles -- or anywhere in the country -- based on current monitoring data. The report finds that many residents of Los Angeles may be exposed to levels of hazardous air pollutants that are hundreds of times higher than the goals of the Clean Air Act.

Mr. Waxman said, "the level of toxic pollutants in the air is much too high. There is a real risk to public health unless we intensify our efforts to reduce toxic emissions."

The report was prepared by the minority staff of the House Government Reform Committee. Mr. Waxman said that he asked for the congressional study because "the public has a right to know the risks of exposure to hazardous air pollutants. I don't think anyone in Los Angeles is aware of this potential danger. But I believe the public should be as informed as possible."

The report analyzes data obtained from air monitors operated in Los Angeles from 1995 to 1998. It finds that exposure to the ten hazardous air pollutants measured at the monitors could cause as many as 426 additional cancer cases per million exposed individuals. The goal of the Clean Air Act is to reduce the cancer risk from exposure to major sources of hazardous air pollutants to 1 in a million.

The report finds that the three pollutants that appear to pose the greatest risks are 1,3-butadiene, formaldehyde, and benzene. The primary source of all three pollutants is mobile sources, such as cars, trucks, and off-road vehicles.

Mr. Waxman said, "while the report shows a serious public health problem, the report does not mean that the public is in imminent danger from short-term exposure. There is considerable scientific uncertainty associated with cancer risk estimates. Moreover, the risk estimates are based on the assumption that individuals experience 70 years of exposure."

Mr. Waxman said, "since passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act, levels of toxic emissions have been reduced substantially. What the report shows is that despite this progress, we still have a long way to go. The exposure levels are much greater than anyone anticipated. The report is a wake-up call that we must do a lot more to reduce toxic emissions, especially from cars and trucks."

The report does not include the potentially significant cancer risks from exposure to diesel particulates, because data on diesel particulates was not available from the monitors.

A copy of the report, "Exposure to Hazardous Air Pollutants in Los Angeles," is available on Rep. Waxman's web site: http://www.house.gov/waxman/L_I/ENV/caa/APR/REPORT/report.html

Visit Representative Henry A. Waxman's homepage for this report, earlier reports and background material, and information on the Clean Air Act.

Read related March 1, 1999 LA Times article

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