Mendocino County: Why are you filling our lungs with pollution?


Lake Mendocino Dec 6, 2009

From ROSALIND PETERSON
Redwood Valley

December 8, 2009

Mendocino County Board of Supervisors
501 Low Gap Road
Ukiah, California 95482

RE:  Air Pollution – Agriculture Burning, Backyard Burning, Forest Lands

Dear Chairman Pinches & Members of the Board of Supervisors:

The Mendocino County Air Pollution Control District has failed for years in giving timely warnings when the air quality in various parts of Mendocino County, CA, is dangerous to public health, especially in the Ukiah Valley. Since November 23, 2008, agriculture and backyard burning peaked again and the Mendocino County Air Pollution Control District did not notify the public in the Ukiah Valley that they should take precautions due to poor air quality.

The Weather Channel (30), showed the Ukiah report for this past two weeks listing air quality in Ukiah as “unhealthy” and or “moderate” (source EPA). The DVD of a few of these television reports, with the dates, will be provided to the Board upon request.  Today a packet along with pictures of the Ukiah Valley taken on those days is provided to each of you. The reporting dates just for this last incidence were as follows: November 23-26, 2009.  The air quality only improved with the rain on Friday, November 27, 2009.  The air quality in Ukiah was once again reduced by burning on November 28, 2009 and listed as Moderate between November 29, 2009 through December 8, 2009.

It is alleged that the Mendocino County Air Pollution Control District failed to notify the local newspapers, the radio stations, local television stations about this ongoing health hazard.  It is alleged that they failed to warn the public to take proper precautions and they failed again to bring this health hazard before the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors, the Mendocino County Agriculture Commissioner, the Mendocino County Health Department, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

A representative from the Mendocino Air Pollution Control District did speak, at the Ukiah City Council meeting on December 2, 2009, during public comment, about air quality in Ukiah.  There seemed to be a lack of concern, at that time about air pollution in Ukiah and the importance of considering temperature inversions in relation to pollutants in the Ukiah Valley. The complete text of his statement is available from the City of Ukiah.

The pictures presented here today demonstrate that fireplace smoke is not the main problem in the Ukiah Valley.  I will be putting pictures taken in the Ukiah Valley between January 2009 and December 2009, online for anyone to view starting on December 14, 2009. http://www.agriculturedefensecoalition.org/

It is now time for the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to take action to clear the air in Mendocino County once and for all. In doing so Mendocino County can “go green” to save our environment by stopping polluters from “aggravating lung and heart disease” in our area. In so doing they can reduce the number of hospital admissions for these conditions and for those that have asthma.  According to the CA ARB smoke can increase the number of hospital visits by children 10% and also premature deaths.

According to the California State Air Resources Board (January 22, 2009), exposure to wood smoke “…may reduce lung function, may reduce the ability of blood to clot properly, and increases substances in the body that lead to cardio-vascular and pulmonary inflammation…”

The CA ARB goes on to state:  “…These health threats could be particularly dangerous to those with pre-existing heart or lung disease…”

“…On March 2009, the California Air Resources Board reviewed the results of a national study that linked exacerbation of childhood allergies to increased air pollution.  A survey of more than 70,000 children, aged three to 17, revealed that exposure to greater amounts of ozone or particulate matter triggers more symptoms of hay fever and respiratory allergies…”

Wood and other smoke (along with particles), contain carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, mercury, and other irritating and toxic components, according to the CA ARB studies. The Ukiah Valley in the wintertime months has many air temperature inversions which trap these pollutants and exacerbate their effects.

Mendocino College Dec 6, 2009

It is now obvious, from their statement to the Ukiah City Council, that the Mendocino County Air Pollution Control District has little interest in notifying the public or in protecting the public health by restricting this type of burning.  The Mendocino Board of Supervisor’s solution is to only restrict fireplace burning which does not account for the majority of smoke and particulates that plague our county. It is also obvious that the Air Quality District is not testing here for other contaminants found in agriculture and backyard burning like Mercury.

It is obvious from traveling across Mendocino County that backyard and agriculture burning keeps our county in an unhealthy state most of the year until this type of burning is restricted due to summer fire hazards.  This type of burning could be eliminated entirely by chipping and mulching yard and grape vine cuttings (other agriculture waste), as well.  This would improve the air quality and human health in Mendocino County substantially during the fall, winter, and spring months.

The agriculture community could support good air quality and health by “going green” and by taking action to chip and mulch instead of burning and bring our clear blue skies back and improve the health of the citizens of our county.  In addition, it would show that Mendocino County can lead the way in reducing global warming emissions from burning wood products that release greenhouse gases and exacerbate global warming. (I took pictures of the grapevine cuttings lined up between the rows on November 28, 2009, just to show that soon the Ukiah Valley will be smoke filed from this type of burning for months.)

In some cases it is alleged that backyard burning is illegally used to burn toxics which are then buried polluting both our air and water supplies.  It is now time to chip, compost, and deploy the best possible methods to clean up the air quality of Mendocino County and place our toxics at recycling sites for proper disposal.

In many studies conducted over the past ten years it has been shown that reduced amounts of particulate air pollution increases the amount of rainfall. Israeli Professor Rosenfeld in 2000, “…used satellite data to show that urban pollution was reducing the size of water droplets inside clouds and proposed that this would reduce precipitation from short-lived clouds in hilly regions…Pollution upsets this delicate balance. Water vapor condenses on the pollution particles, creating a cloud with a large number of drops that are so small they float in the air. Before these tiny drops have a chance to grow large enough to fall as raindrops or snow, the lifetime of the cloud is already over. Instead, the water evaporates into the air…”

According to Rosenfeld  “…In recent years there has been a decrease in the number of mass particulates in the air, but there has been no decrease in the number of small particulates that affect clouds. We have to take note of what is happening to our water resources…” adds Rosenfeld. “People must do something about it. The world has to cut down on air pollution’…” (15)

The Mendocino County Air Resources Control Board and the County Health Department could take a stand to make Mendocino County rival Lake County with the best air quality in the State.  What a great accomplishment for the health of our citizens and our air quality.  The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors should pass an ordinance to give Mendocino County the cleanest air in the State of California and they should require that the Mendocino County Air Quality District better protect public health and our air quality. And they should give timely air pollution warnings to Mendocino County residents.

According to the CA ARB May, 28, 2009, a new study demonstrates that life expectancy improves when air pollution is reduced along with increasing good health.  What a great gift our Mendocino County Board of Supervisors could give to the residents of Mendocino County in 2010.

I look forward to hearing from you on this issue in the near future and hope that the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors will take quick action on this issue.

Respectfully,

(signed)

Rosalind Peterson
Agriculture Defense Coalition
Post Office Box 499
Redwood Valley, CA 95470
(707) 485-7520

Note:  The Weather Channel stated the particulate air pollution in Ukiah, CA was had moderate particulates air quality for Sunday, November 29, 2009.  There was no notation in the Ukiah Daily Journal that those with health problems should be warned to take precautions from exposure.  Please note that the particulates appear from photographs from backyard and hillside burning areas or piles of debris in the Ukiah Valley.

See Attachments & Links from the California Air Resources Board

1) Wood Burning Air Pollution Control Measures

http://www.arb.ca.gov/pm/pmmeasures/board_approved_list.pdf

2) Childhood Allergies Exacerbated by Air Pollution March 2009 Study

http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/nr032609.htm

3) October 18, 2000 CA ARB – Study Links Slow Lung Growth Rate in Children With Pollution – SACRAMENTO — A study funded by the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Resources Board (ARB) has revealed that exposure to high air pollution levels can slow down the lung function growth rate of children by up to 10 percent. The 10-year study is the nation’s first large-scale effort to explore the effects of long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution. http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/nr101800.htm

4) January 31, 2009 CA ARB – Study Links Air Pollution and Asthma – SACRAMENTO — A ten-year study of children funded by the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Resources Board (ARB) and conducted by the University of Southern California (USC) has produced the strongest evidence to date that ozone, commonly known as smog, can cause asthma in children. ARB Chairman Dr. Alan Lloyd said, “We’ve known for some time that smog can trigger attacks in asthmatics. This study has shown that ozone can cause asthma as well.”

http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/nr013102.htm

5) Garbage Burning Banned Statewide in California – December 2003 – CA ARB

http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/nr123003.htm
SACRAMENTO Beginning January 1, 2004, outdoor residential waste burning will no longer be allowed. The California Air Resources Board’s (ARB) measure addresses one of the state’s largest uncontrolled sources of dioxin, a compound identified as a toxic air contaminant by the state and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA).

“We are capping an emissions source that is not generally recognized by the public,” said ARB Chairman, Dr. Alan Lloyd. “Whenever garbage is burned, be it junk mail, food containers or gift-wrapping paper, toxic compounds and particulate matter are dispersed. These emissions can adversely affect the health of people who breathe them or subsequently ingest them after they enter the food chain through the soil and water,” he added.

Residential waste burning is a serious health concern because it produces toxic pollutants that can linger in the environment and our bodies. These emissions can potentially cause respiratory ailments, cancer, immune system damage and other health problems. One pollutant of particular concern, dioxin, is especially damaging to infants, children, the elderly and infirm, according to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and U.S. EPA….”

6) January 23, 2009 http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/nr012303.htm California Issues Wood Burning Advisory due to Health Problems Associated With Air Pollution – CA ARB Issues Wood Burning Health Advisory
SACRAMENTO – The Air Resources Board (ARB) encourages Californians to consider alternatives to wood burning this winter, and to use their wood burning fireplaces and stoves wisely if they use them. Wood smoke can harm the health of your family and your neighbors, especially children, the elderly and asthmatics. Woodstoves and fireplaces release far more pollution, indoors and out, than heaters and fireplaces using natural gas.

“In many areas of California, wood smoke significantly degrades air quality and visibility, and can be the biggest single source of pollution, especially on still winter days. In order to reduce air pollution, we encourage people to consider the many alternatives to heating their home with wood,” said ARB Chairman, Alan Lloyd.

Burning wood produces air pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. These pollutants are hazardous to the respiratory system. They can trigger asthma in sensitive individuals, and may cause chronic lung disease. Particulate matter can be especially dangerous since, when inhaled, it can penetrate deep into the lungs where it may remain for years. Wood smoke also contains substances such as benzene, formaldehyde, and benzo-a-pyrene, which can contribute to the development of cancer and irritate the eyes and throat.

7) CA ARB Air Pollution http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/nr032609.htm March 26, 2009

Air pollution contributes to allergies – New study supports efforts to protect children from air pollution – SACRAMENTO: Today, at its monthly regulatory hearing, the California Air Resources Board reviewed the results of a national study that linked exacerbation of childhood allergies to increased air pollution.

A survey of more than 70,000 children, aged three to 17, revealed that exposure to greater amounts of ozone or particulate matter triggers more symptoms of hay fever and respiratory allergies.

8) CA ARB Wildfire Smoke is Dangerous – August 6, 2009 – This means controlled forest burns is also dangerous – along with backyard burning of year wastes.

http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/nrSmokewarning.htm

Public should take precautions to reduce exposure

SACRAMENTO – ARB is warning Californians enduring threats from wildfires to be aware of the dangers from wood smoke and minimize exposure.

Fire season is upon us and while the smoke from the southern California fires remains minimal, the expected lighter winds will reduce clearing of the air. Smoke from forest fires is a mix of very fine particles that can be dangerous depending on the amount of smoke and personal health.

9) CA ARB – May 2009 Study Confirms that Air Pollution Reductions Increases Life Span. http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/nr052809.htm

10) CA ARB – Air pollution episodes especially harmful to athletes, outdoor workers http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/nr072408.htm
Health effects include respiratory problems, DNA damage

SACRAMENTO – Staff presented research today to the California Air Resources Board that links air pollution episodes to adverse health effects for athletes and those who must work outdoors. Scientists have found that outdoor exercise during high levels of smog or particulate matter may cause otherwise healthy individuals to experience lung function decrease, exacerbation of asthma, and even DNA damage. For those with pre-existing respiratory or heart ailments, the danger is even greater.

“This report once again shows that an active person’s zeal for fitness may sometimes do more harm than good when air quality is suffering,” said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols. “People should be aware of air quality in their region and take precautions to protect their health when pollution spikes occur. For example, we are surprised and alarmed to find many people out exercising during the recent rash of wildfires that have blanketed much of the state in smoke.”

11) CA ARB California Adopts New Ozone Standard Children’s Health Focus of New Requirement http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/nr042805.htm April 28, 2005

EL MONTE — Today the California Air Resources Board (ARB) approved the nation’s most health protective ozone standard with special consideration for children’s health.

12) February 24, 2009 CA ARB http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/nr022403.htm

Hospitalizations and Emergency Room Visits Increase Following High Particulate Matter Episodes, Study Finds

13) http://www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/nr013102.htm

Study Links Air Pollution and Asthma in Children January 31, 2002

14) U.S. Fires Release Large Amounts of Carbon Dioxide, New Study Shows

October 31, 2007 http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2007/co2fires.jsp

Fires in a western or southeastern state can pump as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in a few weeks as the state’s entire motor vehicle traffic does in a year, according to newly published research by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

15) Air Pollution Study-Israel Demonstrates that Air Pollution Reduces Rainfall Totals

http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Israel+beyond+politics/Study%20finds%20air%20pollution%20cuts%20vital%20mountain%20rainfall%2014-May-2007

Professor Rosenfeld, who has won many awards for his work, including the Schaefer and Thunderbird awards from the Weather Modification Association and the Verner Suomi Medal of the American Meteorological Society, has been studying this field for many years. In 2000 he used satellite data to show that urban pollution was reducing the size of water droplets inside clouds and proposed that this would reduce precipitation from short-lived clouds in hilly regions…Pollution upsets this delicate balance. Water vapor condenses on the pollution particles, creating a cloud with a large number of drops that are so small they float in the air. Before these tiny drops have a chance to grow large enough to fall as raindrops or snow, the lifetime of the cloud is already over. Instead, the water evaporates into the air… ‘In recent years there has been a decrease in the number of mass particulates in the air, but there has been no decrease in the number of small particulates that affect clouds. We have to take note of what is happening to our water resources,” adds Rosenfeld. “People must do something about it. The world has to cut down on air pollution’…”

16) Ukiah Daily Journal – Air Quality Reports – There was no article in the Ukiah Daily Journal when the Weather Channel was reported poor air quality during this time period. Monday November 16th, 2009 through Sunday, November 29, 2009

Particulates were reported by the Mendocino County Air Quality District only once but there was no warning to the public nor a designation of the type of particulates only the size.

It is unclear why Carbon Monoxide reporting was always N/A.

Burning always produces particulates , carbon dioxide, and mercury.

Mercury and Carbon Dioxide test results were not reported by the Mendocino County Air Quality District. Other smoke pollutants not reported in Mendocino County produced by Wood smoke are benzene, dioxin, formaldehyde and benzo-a-pyrene.

When any type of burning is occurring in Mendocino County, California, Air Quality reporting and warnings should be of primary importance and reported in all newspapers with appropriate advance warnings when any type of burning is occurring in the County – especially the Ukiah Valley where inversions are common during certain times of the year.  These inversions trap all types of air pollution closer to the ground thereby aggravating health problems.
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