Proximity to Rail Yards Ups Cancer Risk, Study Finds
Pollutants from trains and other vehicles and equipment used at rail yards increase the risk of cancer from soot for nearby Southern California communities by as much as 140%, according to draft reports by the California Air Resources Board, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The research was undertaken as part of a voluntary agreement with Union Pacific and BNSF, the two largest railroads in the U.S.
The increased cancer risk from soot was most pronounced in the Bandini and Ayers-Leonis neighborhoods in Commerce by 70% to 140%. Residents of communities near rail yards in Los Angeles, Riverside County and Wilmington have an 11% to 26% greater chance of developing cancer from soot.
Railroad officials highlighted steps they are taking to reduce the soot they produce but added that railroads produce less than 1% of Southern California's diesel particulate emissions.
Community residents questioned why the reports did not take into account the possibility of increased risks for asthma, respiratory disease or other impaired lung functions, citing research that linked those conditions to pollution.
Michael Scheible, deputy executive officer of the California Air Resources Board, said state health guidelines only call for studies on increased cancer risks. However, he said the state could consider working to include information on respiratory conditions in the final reports if there is sufficient public demand (Wilson, Los Angeles Times, 5/25