Truck pollution kills: NAFTA
OTTAWA, (Nov. 12, 2003) — A study commissioned by NAFTA reports that children living near major cross-border trucking routes between Mexico and the U.S. are getting sick and dying due to high levels of air pollution coming off of trucks.
Conducted by NAFTA’s Commission for Environmental Co-operation, the study — which is said to have implications for major Canadian border crossings as well — found “significant associations” between particulate matter from diesel trucks and child mortality along trucking routes at Ciudad Juarez in Mexico.
The report reinforces environmentalists’ concerns over the high levels of truck traffic and pollution, and the effects it can have on young children and the elderly. However, the study also noted infant mortality jumped sharply among children with the lowest socio-economic status, but did not jump among those at the higher end of the scale.
Paul Miller of the CEC, said the results are not unique to Ciudad Juarez. “Similar or even air higher pollution levels exist at other crossings along the Mexico-U.S. and Canada-U.S. borders,” he told the Canadian Press
The study comes off the heals of a report conducted last year by the Environmental Protection Agency, which concluded that diesel exhaust may cause lung cancer. The report, developed over the last 10 years, states that exposure to diesel exhausts poses “a chronic respiratory hazard to humans,” including increased asthma and other respiratory problems. Furthermore, tests on animals showed diesel emissions likely to be a carcinogen, a cancer-causing substance, although the agency found insufficient scientific evidence to quantify a clear relationship between diesel exhaust exposure and lung cancer.
However, no other transportation sector has made the pollution-control advancements as has the trucking industry over the last 10 years. Technology in new diesel engines introduced in October 2002 are currently abiding by a NOx standard of 2.5 g/bhp-hr, mandated by the EPA. Even more stringent rules will be enforced over the next few years.
The EPA’s own air quality data shows advances in clean diesel technology are lowering emissions of diesel exhaust to unprecedented levels, and that from 1990-1998, levels of diesel particulates in the atmosphere dropped by over 37 per cent.
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