County residents gear up for ozone fight
From 2001 to 2003, the number of Nevada County children with asthma grew from 10.5 percent to 17.3 percent, an increase a local doctor this week blamed partly on Central Valley air pollution.
The jump in rates means one out of six county kids has asthma, Dr. Jeff Kane said at a town hall meeting hosted in Grass Valley Wednesday by the Alliance for a Post-Petroleum Local Economy. He cited asthma figures collected in a telephone survey by First 5 Nevada County.
Children squirmed on their mother’s laps, every seat was filled and more people stood in the hallways as they listened to a discussion of the county’s health and air quality.
Kane began researching asthma rates in the county after he became disabled with it two summers ago, he said. He and other doctors and parents formed Save the Air in Nevada County (STA in NC) six months ago out of frustration regarding high ozone levels caused primarily by vehicle emissions from the Sacramento Valley, blown into the area by winds from the southwest.
Proposals for new housing developments, such as the 5,100-residence Yuba Highlands project and others in Wheatland, will put a greater strain on Nevada County’s breathing in coming years, Kane said.
“Things like ozone cross boundaries,” Kane said.
The nonprofit group has collected $2,000, half the funding needed to buy a portable ozone monitor that would be useful in pinpointing cluster areas of asthma linked to high ozone hot spots, said Shawn Garvey, one of the founding members of STA in NC. It could be taken to places such as schools, the Yuba River and other places where people recreate, he said.
A monitor on the Litton Building in Grass Valley and another in Truckee supplies the ozone readings for the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District.
“No one is taking the leadership on this,” Garvey said. “We believe we have an obligation to take the lead role on this.”
The group will take a clean air resolution to the Grass Valley City Council on July 31, Garvey said.
Members plan to take a similar resolution to Nevada City and the county Board of Supervisors later this summer, he said. Members also have contacted Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, and hired a lawyer to look into bringing suit against Central Valley and Bay Area polluters.
A blog site for STA in NC is on the Web at groups.yahoo .com/group/STAinNC.
To contact Staff Writer Laura Brown, e-mail laurab@theunion .com or call 477-4231.
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