We've known for some time that the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are primary sources of air pollution in the L.A. Basin, where diesel-powered ships, truck, and trains unceasingly belch ever-growing amounts of particulates into the air.
These particulates contribute to smog, which can kill you by bringing on a myriad of fatal respiratory and circulatory ailments. That part of the story is a well-known, possibly yawn-inducing fact to Angelenos who have developed a fatalistic attitude about smog: to live and die in L.A. is to breath the smog. It's an immutable part of what L.A. is, no less so than humidity in Atlanta, or snow in Chicago. We've lived with it for so long (see image, from 1956) that a time without smog has passed from living memory. Imagining L.A. without it is to imagine - what?
A new report
on cancer risks associated with diesel fumes from the ports, however, may help to reivigorate serious efforts to clean up the polluting aspects of their operation (there is no shortage of white papers, proposals, or non-binding resolutions that have attempted to grapple with this problem). The report spells out the health dangers that even those who live miles from the ports face.
It makes clear that diesel fumes from the ports are killing people by giving them cancer. Is that something we are prepared to live with?