Archived: Commerce Town Hall Focuses on Air Quality

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Assemblymember Hector De La Torre, (D-South Gate), held a Town Hall meeting on July 29 that focused on legislative and personal efforts being made to improve air quality in the region.

Included in the discussion was information about what individuals can do to improve the deteriorating air around the City of Commerce, specifically near the Long Beach Freeway (710) corridor.

All five Commerce City Council members were present at the interactive meeting held at Bandini Elementary School.

Mayor Tina Baca del Río thanked De La Torre for his attention to the area, calling Bandini  “ground zero” due to the high levels of air pollution in the neighborhood located adjacent to the 710 freeway and local railyards.
Citing data that claims 3,700 Californians die prematurely each year due to pollution from the ports and freight transportation, De La Torre said two legislative bills, SB974 and AB2546, would serve as long-term initiatives to reduce harmful pollutants.

SB974, authored by Senator Alan Lowenthal and passed in the Assembly, would collect $30 from each 20-foot-equivalent shipping container at the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland. Half would go to transportation improvements, namely on freeways and railroads, and the other half would be for environmental mitigation, such as replacing old trucks and other vehicles with cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

“SB974 is the first of its kind in the country and will definitely help the 710 corridor,” De La Torre explained. “I am extremely proud to have been a part of it.”

AB2546 is De La Torre’s own amendment to a 1987 bill that would allow the state to regulate everything but trains in an toxic air “hot spot,” namely railyards. The bill is currently in the Senate and should find its way onto the governor’s desk in August, De La Torre said.

“A person living near a railyard has a 70-140 percent more likely chance to develop cancer,” De La Torre cited from an Air Resources Board (ARB) report. “The purpose of this bill is to reduce pollution by 20 percent and lower this higher risk of cancer.”

Henry Hogo from the South Coast Air Quality Management District and Igor Kagan, the Advocacy Coordinator from the American Lung Association, discussed current air quality as well as tips to reduce air pollutants from homes, such as: closing doors and windows to make your home airtight against airborne toxins; installing a Hepa type air filtration system; testing for asbestos; not idling your car in the garage, which produces a surplus of carbon monoxide; replacing wood products that have an excessive amount of formaldehyde, like drawers and cabinets; avoiding paint and products containing lead and  when using pesticides to kill bugs and insects, go to the source of the infestation, don’t just spray the entire house.

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