The study of air pollution in
California by the National Environmental Trust also said that even
if a young child moved away from California, or if the air had been
cleaned up by the time he or she reached adulthood, "the potential
(cancer) risk that a child rapidly accumulates in California from
simply breathing will not go away."
California, known to be the nation's smoggiest state, already has
a potential cancer risk to adults that is hundreds of times above
levels seen as acceptable by the Environmental Protection Agency (
But the report said children were 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.
"A baby born in California will be exposed to such high levels of
toxic air contaminants that the child will exceed the Environmental
Protection Agency's (EPA) lifetime acceptable exposure level for
cancer at a very early age, and will exceed the lifetime acceptable
exposure level by many multiples by age 18," the Washington
D.C-based environmental campaign group said.
The "Toxic Beginnings" study divided California into five
geographical areas. It concluded that in Los Angeles an infant would
have reached the EPA's one chance in one million limit of
contracting cancer from contaminants in 12 days, and in Sacramento
it would take 23 days.
It said diesel exhaust -- from trucks and cars, school buses, and
farm and construction equipment -- was still the worst source of air
pollution. But it also took into account chemicals emitted by dry
cleaners and factories as well as pesticides, adhesives and
The National Environmental Trust urged federal and state policy
makers to make cleaning up the air a priority.
"The overwhelming policy implication of these findings can be
reduced to one word: URGENCY," it said.
It recommended that regional and local governments emphasize
alternative technologies and fuels, replace diesel school buses and
other municipal vehicles with cleaner alternative fuel models and
enforce existing laws on fuel emissions.