- SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- In a decision that could influence air quality
across the country, California regulators said 40 chemicals found in diesel
fumes must be listed as toxic air pollutants.
- The decision Thursday by the powerful
California Air Resources Board forces the state to come up with a plan
to limit human exposure to the cancer-causing chemicals, which include
benzene and dioxin.
- California is the first state to declare
that diesel engines spew chemicals that cause cancer and other diseases.
- The 11-member panel is one of the most
influential environmental regulatory agencies in the country. Its decisions
often serve as a bellwether for stricter standards at the federal level,
where regulators also are drafting standards for diesel emissions.
- "The EPA is going to be giving increased
scrutiny to diesel emissions from heavy-duty trucks," said Daniel
Greenbaum, president of the Health Effects Institute, an independent air
pollution research group. "People at the EPA and in Europe will be
following this very closely."
- The trucking industry, which supported
the board's decision, says the decision could force aging, less efficient
trucks spewing black soot off the roads.
- "When the public sees big, black
smoke coming out of a truck, that's a reality," said Allen Shaeffer,
vice president of the American Trucking Association. "We have to deal
with that reality."
- Engine makers say advances in design
and cleaner fuel have yielded a "smokeless" truck and significant
reductions in toxic emissions.
- Studies have found a 40 percent increased
risk of cancer due to long-term exposure to diesel fumes. However, a state
judge last week threw out a lawsuit against diesel engine makers brought
by environmentalists who claimed the public faced significant health risks
by inhaling diesel fumes.