Commentary: Getting Realistic Figures for Air Quality Concerns

One of the key questions I have been asking since we have started the air quality discussion with the Nishi project has been what these risk analysis rates actually mean.  For instance, if we talk about a 197 in one million increased cancer risk, over what period of time is that over?

It turns out that the answer was there, we just had to find the right document, in this case the air quality analysis at New Harmony, which turns out to be quite a bit lower than the risk at Nishi.

However, the duration of exposure is incredibly important because, in the case of the current proposal at Nishi, we end up with a development where the inhabitants are going to primarily be student renters and therefore most of them will be there anywhere from one to three years.

Sunday Commentary: Addressing the Issue of Air Quality at Nishi

Sunday’s commentary on Nishi’s air quality issue attempts to forge out some ground to put this issue to rest.  While there are some reasonable concerns about the air quality, given the limited duration of exposure at a student rental housing project, I tend to believe these are more about stopping the project than exposing legitimate health concerns.

But a key piece that has been missing has been an understanding of what the risk factors mean.

Well, now we have a greater understanding and we pulled up the report from the city-hired consultant on New Harmony.  The developer had hired LSA Associates to do an HRA (Health Risk Assessment) on the project.

The figure ultimately derived by these types of studies represents a “maximum potential cancer risk” and “a reasonable worst-case estimate for the nearest point of the project parcel containing the multi-family homes…”

The consultant notes that LSA “concludes that the actual cancer risk would be lower than the values they calculated because…”

First: “The maximum potential cancer risk is based on the assumption that an individual is exposed to the outdoor air concentrations computed by the dispersion model for 24 hours per day throughout
a 70 year lifetime.”

That’s the key piece I was looking for.  If that’s true, then even a five-year exposure would be negligible.  And, while some have pointed out I am only looking at cancer risks, the reality is that’s what we appear to have data on AND the same principle should still apply for other health risks – it should be a function of concentration over time, not just concentration.

Second, they find that a resident occupies a specific residence an average of nine years and in the same general area for 30 years.  For apartments, that is a good deal less, “averaging between 5 and 15 years.”  And of course, we expect student apartments to be even less than that.  Again, I would say one to three years, but it would now appear that even going up to five and 10 years is not going to be a huge problem.

Finally, they note that “people spend most of their time indoors, averaging 22.5 hours per day, not outdoors.  TAC [toxic air contaminant] levels indoors are typically one-third lower in residences and schools than outdoors, and almost one-half lower in offices than outdoors.”

This is helpful information for sure.  It puts the risk analysis into perspective – it is the assumed risk over the lifetime of exposure – a maximum possible risk.  Now, in the case of New Harmony the risk was about nine in a million, and here it is somewhere around 200 in a million for cancer.

It was pointed out on Sunday that we continue to ignore the risk of other factors.  For instance they cite the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) ordinance: ”Scientific studies show that exposure to particulate matter from air pollution leads to significant human health problems, including: aggravated asthma; chronic bronchitis; reduced lung function; irregular heartbeat; heart attack; and premature death in people with heart or lung disease. Exposure to air pollutants that are carcinogens can also have significant human health consequences. For example, exposure to diesel exhaust is an established cause of lung cancer.”

The reason I have looked at cancer risk is that is the quantifiable data which appears to be available.  The question I would have is what are the risk factors for the other possible impacts of TAC pollution?

In this case, unlike New Harmony, the risks were found to be “significant.”  The recommendation was not to not build in this area, but rather employ a series of mitigation measures designed to lower the risk.

Ultimately the EIR is a disclosure document rather than a prohibitive one.  They found that the air quality impact is significant but partially reducible through a series of mitigation measures.

As the consultant report cited demonstrates, most people spend most of their time indoors (if they are home) and not outdoors.  They have found that indoor levels are far lower (one-third) than outdoor levels.  Couple that with the relatively short period of exposure (compared to the 70-year baseline) and the real health impacts here are probably less than alarming.

With that said, I would still like to get a better sense for the other risk factors for other impacts listed above, and the upper level TAC levels for the site.  Right now it would appear that, even at the upper bounds, you are still looking at an increased risk of less than one in 5,000 over a 70-period of exposure.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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40 thoughts on “Commentary: Getting Realistic Figures for Air Quality Concerns”

  1. Roberta Millstein

    Short summary of references in support of Cahill’s position on Nishi

    1. The effect of elevated freeways on downwind concentrations

    Feeney, P.J., T.A. Cahill, R.G. Flocchini, R.A. Eldred, D.J. Shadoan, and T. Dunn.  Effect of roadbed configuration on traffic derived aerosols.  Journal of the Air Pollution Control Association.  25:1145‑1147 (1975).
    Baldauf, Richard, Greg McPherson, Linda Wheaton, Max Zhang, Tom Cahill, Chad Bailey, Christina Hemphill-Fuller, Earl Withycombe, and Kori Titus, Integrating Vegetation and Green Infrastructure into Sustainable Transportation Planning, Transportation Research Bulletin, National Academy of Sciences (2013)
    Bowker, George E. , Richard Baldauf, Vlad Isakov, Andrey Khlystov, William Petersen, The effects of roadside structures on the transport and dispersion of ultrafine particles from highways, Atmospheric Environment , Volume 41, Issue 37, December 2007, Pages 8128–813
    Thomas A. Cahill1,2, David E. Barnes1, , Leann Wuest1, Sean Barberie1, David Gribble1, David Buscho1, Jason Snyder1, Roger S. Miller1, and intern Camille De la Croix3, Artificial Ultra-fine Aerosol Tracers for Highway Transect Studies, in press, Atm. Environ. (2016)

    2. The effect of braking on “wear” aerosols

    Denier Van der Gon, H., Gerlofs Nijland, M, Gehrig R, Gustafsson M, Janssen N, Harrison R,
    Hulskotte J, Johansson C, Jozwicka M, Keuken M, Krijgsheld K, Ntziachristos L, Riediker M,
    Cassee F (2013) The policy relevance of wear emissions from road transport, now and in the
    Future – an international workshop report and consensus statement. J Air Waste Management Assoc. 63:136–149 (2013).

    Cahill, Thomas A., , David E. Barnes, Nicholas J. Spada, Seasonal variability of ultra-fine metals downwind of a heavily traveled secondary road, Atmospheric Environment 94 173 – 179 (2014)

    3. The role of diesel exhaust in excess cancer deaths

    ARB Emfac2007 at aeb.ca.gov
    Health Effects Institute, (2009)
    H JungB Guo, C Anastasio, IM Kennedy -, Quantitative measurements of the generation of hydroxyl radicals by soot particles in a surrogate lung fluid, Atmospheric Environment, 2006

    4. The role of ultra-fine metals from brakes on  ischemic heart disease

    Thomas A. Cahill, David E. Barnes, Nicholas J. Spada, Jonathan A. Lawton and Thomas M. Cahill. Very fine and ultra-fine metals and ischemic heart disease in the California Central Valley 1: 2003 – 2007. Aerosol Science and Technology 45:1125-1134 (2011) doi:10.1080/02786826.2011.5821944.
    Thomas A. Cahill, David E. Barnes, Earl Withycombe, and Mitchell Watnik. Very fine and ultra-fine metals and ischemic heart disease in the California Central Valley 2: 1974 – 1991. Aerosol Science and Technology 45:1135-1142 (2011) doi:10.1080/02786826.2011.582196
    US EPA Conference in Ultra Fine Particles (2012)

    5. The impact on the lungs of children growing up near freeways

    Gauderman, W. J., McConnell, R., Gilliland, F., London, S., Thomas, D., Avol, E., Vora, H., Berhane, K., Rappaport, E. B., Lurmann, F., Margolis, H. G. and Peters, J. (2000). Association between air pollution and lung function growth in southern California children. Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 162:1383-1390
    Peters, John M., Edward Avol, William Navidi, Stephanie J. London, W. James Gauderman, Fred Lurman, William S. Linn, Helene Margolis, Edward Rappaport, Henry Gong, Jr., and Duncan C. Thomas, “A Study of Twelve Southern California Communities with Differing Levels and Types of Air Pollution I. Prevalence of Respiratory Morbidity, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 159, No. 3 (1999), pp. 760-767.(a).
    Peters, John M., Edward Avol, William Navidi, Stephanie J. London, W. James Gauderman, Fred Lurman, William S. Linn, Helene Margolis, Edward Rappaport, Henry Gong, Jr., and Duncan C. Thomas “A Study of Twelve Southern California Communities with Differing Levels and Types of Air Pollution; II. Effects on Pulmonary Function, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol. 159 American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 159,, No. 3 (1999), pp. 768-775 (b).
    Jessica G. CharrierAlexander S. McFallNicole K. Richards-Henderson, and Cort Anastasio, Hydrogen Peroxide Formation in a Surrogate Lung Fluid by Transition Metals and Quinones Present in Particulate Matter, Environ. Sci. Tech.., 2014, 48 (12), 7010–7017

    6. The enhancement of autism chances for near freeways conceptions

    Volk, H.E., Hertz-Piciotto, I., Delwiche, L., Lurmann, F., McConnell, R., Residential Proximity to Freeways and Autism in the CHARGE Study, Environmental Health Perspectives, 119, No. 6, Pg 874 – 877 (2011)
    The Economist, Special Issue.  autism April, 2016  air pollution as an enahancer
    Section B: New Topics: (2017)

    1. Inadequacy of PM2.5 mass to protect health – general

    Chen, L. C., and Lippmann, M. (2009). Effects of Metals within Ambient Air Particulate Matter (PM) on Human Health. Inhal. Toxicol. Int Forum Resp. Res., 21:1-31.

    Abstract
    We review literature providing insights on health-related effects caused by inhalation of ambient air particulate matter (PM) containing metals, emphasizing effects associated with in vivo exposures at or near contemporary atmospheric concentrations. Inhalation of much higher concentrations, and high-level exposures via intratracheal (IT) instillation that inform mechanistic processes, are also reviewed. The most informative studies of effects at realistic exposure levels, in terms of identifying influential individual PM components or source-related mixtures, have been based on (1) human and laboratory animal exposures to concentrated ambient particles (CAPs), and (2) human population studies for which both health-related effects were observed and PM composition data were available for multipollutant regression analyses or source apportionment. Such studies have implicated residual oil fly ash (ROFA) as the most toxic source-related mixture, and Ni and V, which are characteristic tracers of ROFA, as particularly influential components in terms of acute cardiac function changes and excess short-term mortality. There is evidence that other metals within ambient air PM, such as Pb and Zn, also affect human health. Most evidence now available is based on the use of ambient air PM components concentration data, rather than actual exposures, to determine significant associations and/or effects coefficients. Therefore, considerable uncertainties about causality are associated with exposure misclassification and measurement errors. As more PM speciation data and more refined modeling techniques become available, and as more CAPs studies involving PM component analyses are performed, the roles of specific metals and other components within PM will become clearer.

    Health Effects Institute, Traffic Related Air Pollution: A Critical Review of the Literature on Emissions, Exposure, and Health Effects, HEI 17, Boston, MA (2009).

    Figure 8-4. The gray shaded area shows the size range and lung deposition for  very fine particles with diameters between 0.25 micrometers and 0.1 micrometers, and ultra-fine particles with diameters less than 0.1 micrometers. These are normally written in a short version, for very fine (0.25 >Dp > 0.1 µm) and for ultra-fine particles, (Dp < 0.1 µm).
    Insoluble ultra-fine particles like metals can then pass into the blood stream to cause arterial sclerosis and ischemic heart disease perhaps much more in neo natal.

    2. Why do the study in winter?

    Figure 3-2. Example of PM2.5 aerosols at two sites about 5 miles apart in Sacramento. Note the similarity between the sites, showing a regional aerosol, and the effect the inversion breakup in spring.

    3. Downwind Transport from freeways

    Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD  Emfac2107
    Thomas A. Cahill, David E. Barnes, Leann Wuest, Sean Barberie, David Gribble, David Buscho, Jason Snyder, Roger S. Miller, and intern Camille De la Croix, Artificial Ultra-fine Aerosol Tracers for Highway Transect Studies, Atmospheric Environment 136,  21 – 42 (2016)
    Feeney, P.J., T.A. Cahill, R.G. Flocchini, R.A. Eldred, D.J. Shadoan, and T. Dunn.  Effect of roadbed configuration on traffic derived aerosolsJournal of the Air Pollution Control Association.  25:1145‑1147 (1975).

    The key plot is below.

    Figure 9 -3. Lead values as a function of freeway configuration, 1972.

    Figure A1-7. Results of the 35th Avenue fill section roadway, summer and winter.
    G.S.W. Hagler ,R.W. BaldaufbE.D. ThomaT.R. LongR.F. SnowJ.S. KinseyL. OudejansB.K. Gullett,   Ultrafine particles near a major roadway in Raleigh, North Carolina: Downwind attenuation and correlation with traffic-related pollutants, Atmospheric Environment  43, , Pages 1229–1234 (2009)

    4. Ultra-fine metals from freeways

    Thomas A. Cahill1, David E. Barnes1, Jonathan A Lawton1, Roger Miller1, Nicholas Spada2, Robert D. Willis3 and Sue Kimbrough4, Transition metals in coarse, fine, very fine and ultra-fine particles from an interstate highway transect near Detroit, Atmospheric Environment 145, 158 – 175 (2016)
    1DELTA Group, University of California, Davis CA 95616, 2University of Houston, Houston, TX,  3US Environmental Protection Agency, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Research Triangle Park, NC27711, 4US Environmental Protection Agency, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Research Triangle Park, NC27711

    Abstract: As one component of a study investigating the impact of vehicle emissions on near-road air quality, human exposures, and potential health effects, particles were measured from September 21 to October 30, 2010 on both sides of a major roadway (Interstate-96) in Detroit. Traffic moved freely on this 12 lane freeway with a mean velocity of 69 mi/hr. with little braking and acceleration. The UC Davis DELTA Group rotating drum (DRUM) impactors were used to collect particles in 8 size ranges at sites nominally 100 m south, 10 m north, 100 m north, and 300 m north of the highway. Ultra-fine particles were continuously collected at the 10 m north and 100 m north sites.  Samples were analyzed every 3 hr. for mass (soft beta ray transmission), 42 elements (synchrotron-induced x-ray fluorescence) and optical attenuation (350 to 800 nm spectroscopy). A three day period of steady southerly winds along the array allowed direct measurement of freeway emission rates for coarse (10 > Dp > 1.0 µm), PM2.5, very fine (0.26 > Dp > 0.09 µm), and ultra-fine (Dp < 0.09 µm) particles. The PM2.5 mass concentrations were modeled using literature emission rates during the south to north wind periods, and averaged 1.6 ± 0.5 µg/m3, versus the measured value of 2.0 ± 0.7 µg/m3. Using European freeway emission rates from 2010, and modeling them at the I-96 site, we would predict roughly 3.1 µg/m3 of PM2.5 particles, corrected from the 4.9 PM10 value by their measured road dust contributions. Using California car and truck emission rates of 1973, this value would have been about 16 µg/m3, corrected down from the 19 µg/m3 PM5.0 using measured roadway dust contributions. This would have included 2.7 µg/m3 of lead, versus the 0.0033 µg/m3 measured. Very fine particles were distributed across the array with a relatively weak falloff versus distance. For the ultra-fine particles, emissions of soot and metals seen in vehicular braking studies correlated with traffic at the 10 m site, but only the soot was statistically significant at the 100 m north site.  Otherwise, the 10 m north and 100 m north sites were essentially identical in mean concentration and highly correlated in time for most of the 5 week study. This result supports earlier publications showing the ability of very fine and ultra-fine particles to transport to sites well removed from the freeway sources. The concentrations of very fine and ultra-fine metals from brake wear and zinc in motor oil observed in Detroit have the potential of being a significant component in statistically established PM2.5 mortality rates.

    Cahill, Thomas A., , David E. Barnes, Nicholas J. Spada, Seasonal variability of ultra-fine metals downwind of a heavily traveled secondary road, Atmospheric Environment 94 173 – 179 (2014)

    Figure 8-1. Ultra fine metals at Arden Middle School 50 feet downwind of Watt Avenue 
    Cahill, Thomas M., and Thomas A. Cahill. Seasonal variability of particle-associated organic compounds near a heavily traveled secondary road. Aerosol Science and Technology, (2013) doi: 10.1080/02786826.2013.857757

    Thomas A. Cahill, David E. Barnes, Earl Withycombe, and Mitchell Watnik. Very fine and ultra-fine metals and ischemic heart disease in the California Central Valley 2: 1974 – 1991. Aerosol Science and Technology 45:1135-1142 (2011) doi:10.1080/02786826.2011.582196
    Thomas A. Cahill, David E. Barnes, Nicholas J. Spada, Jonathan A. Lawton and Thomas M. Cahill. Very fine and ultra-fine metals and ischemic heart disease in the California Central Valley 1: 2003 – 2007. Aerosol Science and Technology 45:1125-1134 (2011) doi:10.1080/02786826.2011.582194

    5. Mitigation by vegetation

    Baldauf, Richard, Greg McPherson, Linda Wheaton, Max Zhabg, Tom Cahill, Chad Bailey, Christina Hemphill-Fuller, Earl Withycombe, and Kori Titus, Integrating Vegetation and Green Infrastructure into Sustainable Transportation Planning, Transportation Research Bulletin, Nat.  Acad. of Sciences (2013)

    Thomas A. Cahill, David E. Barnes, Leann Wuest, Sean Barberie, David Gribble, David Buscho, Jason Snyder, Roger S. Miller, and intern Camille De la Croix, Artificial Ultra- fine Aerosol Tracers for Highway Transect Studies, Atmospheric Environment 136, 21 – 42 (2016)
    Summary: The best mitigation from both studies was an intact tree canopy of deciduous trees, which reduced freeway aerosols by about a factor of 2.

    6. Toxicity of diesel exhaust

    Thomas A. Cahill, Thomas M. Cahill, David E. Barnes, Nicholas J. Spada and Roger Miller. Inorganic and organic aerosols downwind of California’s Roseville Railyard. Aerosol Science and Technology 45:1049-1059 (2011) doi:10.1080/02786826.2011.580796

    Abstract
    In 2004, the California Air Resources Board staff, at the request of the Placer County Air Pollution Control District, estimated the health impacts of the Roseville, CA Union Pacific Rail Road’s (UPRR) J. R. Davis rail yard. The results showed excess cancer rates downwind of the rail yard as high as 800 excess cancer cases per million, lifetime. In a Memorandum of Understanding, mitigation was promised by UPRR, to be verified by the Roseville Railyard Air Monitoring Project (RRAMP). In 2005, RRAMP initiated a project to measure aerosols upwind and downwind of the yard in three successive summers. Separation of rail yard activities from other sources such as nearby Interstate 80 was accomplished by taking advantage of stable downslope winds blowing laterally across the rail yard for about 8 hours each night. We requested permission to use the study sites to advance our understanding of rail yard emissions with additional aerosol collection and analysis techniques beyond the NO, NOR2R, black carbon, and PMR2.5R measurements of RRAMP. We sampled from July through August at the Pool site (a city swimming pool upwind of rail yard), and from July through October 2005 and January 2006 at the Denio site (downwind of rail yard). Very fine aerosols were routinely enhanced over the upwind site of materials associated with diesel exhaust, including mass, sulfur at about 3.3% of the aerosol very fine (0.26 > DRpR > 0.09 m) mass. Many metals exhibited sharp spikes of short duration at the Denio site only. Three separate campaigns were performed for size resolved organic matter, PAHs, alkanes, sugars, and acids. Benzo[a]pyrene aerosols were present at  5.5 ± 0.7 times more than from diesel trucks per unit mass, and unlike truck diesel exhaust, almost all  were present in the ultra fine (< 0.1 m) size mode. The coarse soil aerosols were contaminated with many anthropogenic metals at levels many times that of standard soil. Additional mitigation options have been proposed to reduce downwind health threats.

    FIG. 19. Profiles of PAHs as a function of Molecular Mass. *

    7. Neo natal Health

    Mònica Guxens, Akhgar Ghassabian, Tong Gong, Raquel Garcia-Esteban, Daniela Porta, Lise Giorgis‑Allemand, Catarina Almqvist, Aritz Aranbarri, Rob Beelen, Chiara Badaloni, Giulia Cesaroni,
    Audrey de Nazelle, Marisa Estarlich, Francesco Forastiere, Joan Forns, Ulrike Gehring, Jesús Ibarluzea, Vincent W.V. Jaddoe, Michal Korek, Paul Lichtenstein, Mark J. Nieuwenhuijsen,Marisa Rebagliato, Rémy Slama, Henning Tiemeier, Frank C. Verhulst, Heather E. Volk, Göran Pershagen, Bert Brunekreef, and Jordi Sunyer, Air Pollution Exposure during Pregnancy and Childhood Autistic Traits in
    Four European Population-Based Cohort Studies: The ESCAPE Project, Environmental Health Perspectives • volume 124 | number 1 | January 2016

    Original Investigation
    October 16, 2017
    Dries S. Martens, MSc1Bianca Cox, PhD1Bram G. Janssen, PhD1; et alDiana B. P. Clemente, MSc1,2,3Antonio Gasparrini, PhD4,5Charlotte Vanpoucke, MSc6Wouter Lefebvre, PhD7Harry A. Roels, PhD1,8Michelle Plusquin, PhD1Tim S. Nawrot, PhD1,9, Prenatal Air Pollution and Newborns’ Predisposition to Accelerated Biological Aging,  JAMA Pediatr. Published online October 16, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.3024
    Key Points
    Question  Is telomere length at birth (a marker of biological aging) influenced by exposure to particulate matter air pollution during in utero life?
    Findings  In this birth cohort study of 641 mother-newborn pairs, mothers with higher residential exposure to PM2.5(particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter ≤2.5 μm air pollution) gave birth to newborns with significantly lower telomere length that could not be explained by other factors including socioeconomic class. For a 5-μg/m3 increase in residential PM2.5 exposure during pregnancy, cord blood telomeres were 9% shorter and placental telomeres 13% shorter.
    Meaning  Improved air quality may promote molecular longevity from birth onward.

     

    1. Todd Edelman

      Wow, that’s impressive, Roberta. I realize that it’s likely a different area of study, but do you have any info starting points for noise effects – above and below ground, sound that can be heard and/or felt – for areas near major road infrastructure?

    2. Richard McCann

      These are useful, but how does the Nishi setting differ from New Harmony, except in the case of the first article on elevated highways?

      And note that Nishi residents are much more likely to reside there for only a portion of the year, so the exposure is further reduced compared to the standard housing project model.

      And this quote: “TAC [toxic air contaminant] levels indoors are typically one-third lower in residences and schools than outdoors, and almost one-half lower in offices than outdoors” appears to indicate the risk to office occupants is 50% higher than for residential occupants.

      1. Howard P

        Will chime in… won’t vary as to morbidity/mortality… that’s epidemiology… number of credible studies are limited, and the “facts” of those studies are situation-specific. Your results may vary.

        Readings will vary due to “wind rose” considerations… Nishi will get more pollutants (all other factors ‘equal’… which they may not be) from winds from the south or west… New Harmony from winds from the north or east…

        That said, this whole thing is a tempest in a thimble.

      2. Roberta Millstein

        These are useful, but how does the Nishi setting differ from New Harmony, except in the case of the first article on elevated highways?

        It’s elevated, yes, that’s one difference.  Another difference is that this is where the highway goes from 6 to 3 lanes, so there is braking which releases very fine and ultrafine particulates, heavy metals.  Another difference is the bowl shaped configuration.

        And note that Nishi residents are much more likely to reside there for only a portion of the year, so the exposure is further reduced compared to the standard housing project model.

        Winter is suspected to be the worse time of the year, as that is when inversions occur.  But students do take classes all year round, and young professionals work all year round.

        1. Frank Reyes

          I’ll be interested to see the effects of electrification on measured PM downwind of 80. With the introduction of electric semi trucks in the coming decade from several manufacturers I would expect PM that is normally released during braking and acceleration to decrease by a noticeable amount (this is something I’ve notice with my Volt PHEV when using L mode to slow the car rather then the physical brakes themselves, which is why I still have my factory brakes in place and in excellent condition after ~85k miles). Because of this perhaps air quality won’t be much of a concern in the Nishi area in the next 10-15 years?

    3. Tia Will

      Roberta

      Meaning  Improved air quality may promote molecular longevity from birth onward.”

      When in a study, authors use the word “may”, they might as well have said “may or may not”. This is not a strong article to cite and while I realize that you did not create this list, you might want to consider dropping this article in the interest of credibility. It is also of interest to me that Dr. Cahill chose to include this study which he is surely aware is of extremely limited value.

       

       

      1. Roberta Millstein

        Tia, just for everyone else’s context, you’re talking about this study:

        Question  Is telomere length at birth (a marker of biological aging) influenced by exposure to particulate matter air pollution during in utero life?Findings  In this birth cohort study of 641 mother-newborn pairs, mothers with higher residential exposure to PM2.5(particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter ≤2.5 μm air pollution) gave birth to newborns with significantly lower telomere length that could not be explained by other factors including socioeconomic class. For a 5-μg/m3 increase in residential PM2.5 exposure during pregnancy, cord blood telomeres were 9% shorter and placental telomeres 13% shorter.

        Are you saying that you don’t find these results striking and, at a minmum, worth following up on?  Certainly we shouldn’t ignore them entirely.

  2. Tia Will

    Roberta

    Thank you for posting these articles. Since you have taken the time to do so, I will over at least the next couple of days take the time to review the articles relevant to maternal/fetal risks and will update if there is a change from my previous assessment that these risks are speculative & not substantiated at this time.

    1. Howard P

      Tia… semi-loaded question… what is the risk of becoming pregnant, as far as risk of death/morbidity to the mother? Compared to the reported risks for living at Nishi or New Harmony for say, 50 years?

      Am thinking it is many orders of magnitude greater risk for the pregnancy.  Nishi risks are de minimus.  Suspect it is extremely more likely that someone would suffer more morbidity/death from a bike crash, car crash, ‘domestic violence’ than fine aerosols from the freeways.

      Risks are inherent in life.  Risks of genetic factors like cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, epilepsy, sickle cell disease, diabetes.  Risks of driving, risks of smoking recreational pot, risks of smoking tobacco, risks of being hit by lightning, risks of drinking alcohol, risks of being robbed/killed visiting a major City, etc., etc., etc. [Kudos to Yul Brynner’s line in the King and I]

      The highest of the projected risks of living on the Nishi property, pale in comparison to other risks we all face, every day.

      Folk should seek perfection, not in this plane.

      Am thinking, ‘straining at gnats’.

      And Tia, not attacking you (trying to make a point on “relative risks” and ‘choices’) , but you can probably put the risks of pregnancy in perspective as to rates the reported risks of death/morbidity due to possible pollutants at Nishi.  We had one medium-risk pregnancy, with signs of pre-eclampsia (sp?) . Got through it, with a bunch of bed-rest…

  3. Todd Edelman

    The site plan for Nishi 2.0 includes open space and neighborhood farm spaces – some of it right next to the 80. These are there as features or marketing highlights. There’s also a Greenbelt area. Without any significant modifications to the 80 – will there be signs posted to indicate recommended exposure? Will there be a NishiSafetoBeOutside smartphone app?

    Have there been any noise-related studies about freeway-proximate living? And about all subjective issues – i.e. if and how someone simply FEELS safe living next to infrastructure like this…

    Would all of want to live next to major freeway for “only a few years”? (This includes a huge part of Davis. Please consider the reaction if there was no freeway and the the Federal govt. and Caltrans etc. wanted to build one like 80  through the center of our city.)

  4. Alan Miller

    Sunday’s commentary on Nishi’s air quality issue attempts to forge out some ground to put this issue to rest.

    Kinda sorta like how the Imam’s so-called-apology press conference with local religious and political leaders attempted to forge out some ground to put that issue to rest?

    1. Howard P

      Morning yoga?  Seems like a stretch.  Maybe reasonable analogy, probably not.

      The analogy perhaps works from a “gut” level, but fails on ‘science’/and/or facts.  Yet, so many like to go completely from the gut, or a ‘philosophers stone’.  So maybe the analogy works.

      1. Alan Miller

        The analogy perhaps works from a “gut” level, but fails on ‘science’/and/or facts.

        Whale hops like frog but flies like bird.  You learn well, grasshopper.

  5. Alan Miller

    they note that “people spend most of their time indoors, averaging 22.5 hours per day, not outdoors.

    Such bogus logic.  I could say “people don’t get lung disease” based on this.  How so?  Well, it isn’t “people spend most of their time indoors, averaging 22.5 hours per day”.  It’s that ON AVERAGE . . . ”  Actually, quite a few people spend a hell of a lot more time outdoors, and all that matters is individual exposure.  How so?  Well, almost everyone will be just fine.  Like, magnitudes more people will not get lung disease than individuals will spend way more time outdoors than average.  All I’m saying is the scientific measures used by everyone here:  the Vanguard, Dr. Cahill, commenters — it’s all crap.  You are all illogic as F, and arguing this is BS.  Just stop.

  6. Matt Williams

    I pose this question to Dr. Cahill, as well as anyone (and everyone) who cares to answer.  Specifically:

    What would the parameters of the recommended further study be?  Parameters like (but not limited to), how long would the further study take and how much would the further study cost?  

      1. Matt Williams

        Understandable answer Roberta.  My question was/is not to Tom Cahill alone, but also to anyone who has expressed an interest in this issue . . . yourself included (although I’m not singling you out).  If we are ever going to get beyond the 100,000 foot discussion of this issue, it would be useful to get a bit more specific about the particulars of such a study.  The links you have provided are very useful, and they definitely are not at the 100,000 foot level, but they still (for me at least) fall into the category of “more discussion” as opposed to “action steps.”

        1. Howard P

          There is no appropriate answer, Matt… the issue is not in the numbers (pollutant data), but what those numbers mean as far as epidemiological effects/risks (morbidity/mortality)… the latter Dr Cahill is not qualified to determine, no matter how good or exhaustive his data is.

          In any event, this is all just another ploy to study/study/study, and the hidden ploy of then questioning any study technically, and it that fails, questioning the epidemiology part.   A well concealed, P-A GAME

          If further testing result in numbers 30-50% of previous estimates, folk will say “it is still too risky”… let’s do the extended tests, and check my theory… not my nickle…

        2. Roberta Millstein

          Yes, I didn’t mean them to be action steps.  I meant them to say “look at all the data that Greenwald is overlooking in his article, data that was easily obtainable by a mere email to Dr. Cahill in response to his offer to send the information to anyone who asked.”

          I don’t have enough expertise to say precisely how long the further study should be, and I certainly don’t know the costs, but it seems reasonable that you’d want to gather data from different times of the year, with different traffic patterns, for enough days so that you got a sense of what was typical and what was unusual.  As implied by what I just said, the data obtained should be correlated with air quality measurements (these are taken by UCD and Yolo County) and with traffic (but we know what typical traffic patterns are — as I have said elsewhere, Thurs and Fri evenings seem to be the worst, but Wed evening and Sat morning are a bit thick as well, so we could use something like that as a proxy).

        3. Roberta Millstein

          Matt, here is what Dr. Cahill said in a recent op-ed:

          The UC Davis DELTA Group (Detection and Evaluation of the Long-Range Transport of Aerosols) could provide two calibrated continuous nine-stage DRUM samplers, EPA-approved for our study in Detroit, including an ultrafine stage, for a five-week study, mid-December to late January.
          The UCD DELTA Group and my campus colleagues would provide Ascent with personnel trained in use of these samplers. The developer could provide small equipment shelters (we can provide a design) and power (circa 1 kw) to two sites, one in the middle next to the proposed housing, and the other toward the east end of the development.
          The DELTA Group could provide an IMPROVE-equivalent international aerosol sampler used in the National Science Foundation’s ACE-Asia program for quality assurance.
          I also would encourage the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District to add equipment, ideally including a carbon monoxide monitor.
          The DELTA Group would on three occasions provide the artificial ultra-fine particle source for three- to six-hour periods directly upwind of the Interstate 80 Nishi site at the level of the I-80 roadbed to provide an unambiguous trace from the freeway source to Nishi site.
          I am working with the Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD on its new transport calculations from elevated freeways in the Emfac2017 version that predicts cancer rates downwind of I-80 at Nishi.
          I would propose to use some of my beam time at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory to give three-hour time-resolved data from the ultra-fine metal samples, but my next slot is somewhere in the April-June window, too late for a June vote. However, there may be new analytical capabilities at the UCD Crocker Nuclear Laboratory by spring.

        4. Matt Williams

          Roberta, is “five-week(s), mid-December to late January” all the time that is needed?  Is there a work plan for that 5-week period with roles and responsibilities delineated?  Will there be any additional resources needed beyond those described by Dr. Cahill in his Op-Ed?

          Your 4:25 pm response seems to indicate a much longer timeline and resources that go beyond those described by Dr. Cahill. For me personally, this back and forth seemingly endless rhetoric does not move the issue toward resolution. The people who want the study done need to take ownership of the issue, develop a set of specific steps, put together a budget, and delineate how the project will progress from start to finish. With that information in place it will be much easier to see the balance of value received versus value expended.

          Until that happens we have nothing more than rhetoric.

        5. Roberta Millstein

          Matt, I really don’t know much more than you know, and the person to ask is Dr. Cahill himself.  But here’s a stab:

          Roberta, is “five-week(s), mid-December to late January” all the time that is needed?

          Clearly, that is Dr. Cahill’s opinion.

          Is there a work plan for that 5-week period with roles and responsibilities delineated?

          I expect so, since he has done this before (and not just at Olive Drive).

          Will there be any additional resources needed beyond those described by Dr. Cahill in his Op-Ed?

          That I don’t know.

          Your 4:25 pm response seems to indicate a much longer timeline and resources that go beyond those described by Dr. Cahill.

          I didn’t say anything about resources; I really don’t know anything about how the measurements are done, only what I read in the Olive Drive report.  As for length of time, it depends on what we want to know.  If we want to know worst-case, then we measure for the five weeks.  If we want to see what it’s like all year round, then we take measurements all year round.  Some commenters have called me out for focusing on the worst case, so I indicated a longer timeline.  But again, it depends on what information we want as citizens, what we feel we need to make an informed decision.

          For me personally, this back and forth seemingly endless rhetoric does not move the issue toward resolution.

          Come on, Matt, you’re exaggerating.  You asked for my opinion and I tossed out one.  I have been pretty clear that I am not an expert on this.  There’s no “endless rhetoric” about how long the study should be, just a couple of opinions on the page.   I’m happy to defer to Dr. Cahill, but I can see reasons why some might want a longer study — that is, some proponents of the project might want a longer study to show that even if things are really bad in Dec-Jan, they are not so bad at other times (of course, we don’t actually know that, one way or the other).

          The people who want the study done need to take ownership of the issue, develop a set of specific steps, put together a budget, and delineate how the project will progress from start to finish. With that information in place it will be much easier to see the balance of value received versus value expended.

          Why don’t you ask Dr. Cahill for those specifics?  He’s just an email away.

          Until that happens we have nothing more than rhetoric.

          Funny, I thought we were having a dialogue, and I thought that that was (in the best of circumstances) the point of these comments.

        6. Matt Williams

          Roberta, thank you for your response.  It shows that I wasn’t clear in what I was saying.  I am not looking for the answers myself, so my personally contacting Dr. Cahill to get those answers won’t accomplish anything.  What I am looking for from the “we need an air quality study” group of people (of which you are part of) to move from the talking stage to the action stage.  I believe continuing to talk about this issue is getting the community nowhere.

          Recently, a very similar situation arose in Davis, which I believe is a constructive template for the “we need an air quality study” group.  Specifically, when the impending sale of Davis Waste Removal was announced, an ad-hoc group of Davis community residents/citizens interest in the issue got together, shared thoughts, organized those thoughts, gathered subject matter expert opinion, prepared a structured game plan for communicating with individual citizens and the decision-makers involved in the proposed sale, and created a work plan for next steps.  Our group accomplished all of that within the budget we established for ourselves at our initial meetings.

          Using that as a guideline, you and Eileen and Dr. Cahill and all the other members of the “we need an air quality study” group should truly engage your issue rather than simply talking about it.  Put together the necessary work plan, identify the necessary resources, put together a budget, and identify funding alternatives for addressing the budget.  If you don’t take those steps, and then communicate the results of those steps to the citizens, we will continue to be stuck in this infinite loop of rhetoric that is going nowhere.

           

        7. Roberta Millstein

          Interesting suggestion — I will think about it.  But there is no such group now and I am not sure that I have the bandwidth to form it and work on it.  And I don’t think that that should be the bar for participating.  The NRC has recommended additional studies.  An appropriate thing to happen might be for the City Council to direct the NRC to work on making that recommendation more precise.

        8. Matt Williams

          Roberta, there was no such solid waste advisory group when knowledge of the DWR sale surfaced.  None of us had the bandwidth to form the group or work on it, but we all were committed enough to the principles to create the necessary additional bandwidth to do the due diligence and take the steps we did.  The steps we took included working with the NRC and the URAC and the FBC, but we also recognized that we could not rely on any of those three Commissions to create the organized sense of urgency needed to impact the decision process.  I’ve been in the position to (as member of the Water Advisory Committee, member of the NRC, and member of the FBC) make formal recommendations to the Council, only to see the Council set aside those recommendations and make a decision different from the one we recommended.   My crystal ball tells me that any air quality recommendation from the NRC will end up being too little and too late.

          JMHO

        9. Roberta Millstein

          I respect you for forming the group and don’t disagree that such groups are a good idea.  I’m just saying that I don’t think I’m in a position to do that right now.

        10. Matt Williams

          Roberta said . . . “I respect you for forming the group and don’t disagree that such groups are a good idea.  I’m just saying that I don’t think I’m in a position to do that right now.”

          Understood and acknowledged Roberta, but based on past communications, it is crystal clear that you are not the only person interested in this Air Quality issue, so the fact that you are not personally in a position to contribute to a group, like the one we created for the DWR sale, should not prevent other interested parties from forming the group and moving it forward.  

          If there are no such interested parties, then it would appear to indicate that no one in your current roster of allies takes the issue seriously enough to “walk the walk” rather than “talk the talk.” If your group can’t take the issue seriously to create an action plan, how can you expect the Council to take the issue seriously. It would not be unreasonable for the Council to say “actions speak louder than words.”

        11. Roberta Millstein

          Matt, I disagree. The bar for participation cannot be people being able to spend multiple hours of one’s time being involved in a community group. That would exclude people whose family or work demands  prevent them from engaging. It should be sufficient to express one’s views clearly and persuasively.

        12. Matt Williams

          Roberta said . . . “Matt, I disagree. The bar for participation cannot be people being able to spend multiple hours of one’s time being involved in a community group. That would exclude people whose family or work demands  prevent them from engaging. It should be sufficient to express one’s views clearly and persuasively.”

          The “bar” isn’t for participation.  I agree with you 100% that any-and-everyone should be included.  No one excluded.  The “bar” (if you want to use that term) relates to how persuasive the impact of the message is.  We do live in a democracy, and specifically a representative democracy. Solo (and occasional) voices don’t convey the same impact on our elected representatives as a choir does.

          That principle was very much in evidence last night at the first meeting of the Core Area Plan Advisory Committee (renamed as the Downtown Plan Advisory Committee), where John Meyer represented and spoke for the Old North Davis choir, Sinisa Novakovic represented and spoke for the University Avenue / Rice Lane choir, and Larry Guenther represented and spoke for the Old East Davis choir.

          An interesting dynamic that played out last night was that John Meyer, who was the first (and only at that point) name put forward to be the Chair, declined the nomination because he felt he couldn’t properly represent his Old North Davis choir if he took on the “neutral” (his words) role of the Chair.

        13. Ron

          Matt:  “If your group can’t take the issue seriously to create an action plan, how can you expect the Council to take the issue seriously. It would not be unreasonable for the Council to say “actions speak louder than words.”

          Seems rather disingenuous to suggest that the air quality issue at a proposed private development is the “responsibility” of citizens (let alone an undefined “group”), who have no direct involvement in the development.  Especially since an expert in the field has already suggested studies on-site, etc.

          The city and the developer ignore this issue at their own risk.  Whether or not this issue, combined with the elimination of revenue-generating commercial development is enough to threaten voter approval remains to be seen.  But, it almost certainly will be brought up again and again, unless resolved.

    1. Howard P

      Would only add, particularly to the folk who are ardently opposed to any additional residential development, unless it on campus, what are the parameters that are needed to satisfy their “concerns”?

      I think I know the answer, and I believe any answer from them will be withheld before the studies, if any.  Gotta save that spaghetti, lest they lose ‘leverage’…

      Just saying…

  7. Roberta Millstein

    Today I bought Dr. Cahill’s book, I Can Breathe Clearly Now: Protecting Yourself from Air Pollution, in its Kindle version.  Here are some of the numbers you are seeking for heart attacks, David:

    Comparison of diesel exhaust to ischemic heart disease death rates

     

    The California Proposition 65 (law on toxics) limit for notification: 10 deaths per million people per 70-year lifetime, or approximately a 0.001% increase in the total death rate.

     

    Diesel exhaust is the most ominous of the old Prop 65 toxic air contaminants (TACs), resulting in about 70 percent of all cancer cases attributable to TACs combined. Using the fact that about 20 percent of all deaths are from either cancer or heart attacks, we can estimate the enhanced death rate, deaths per million people per 70-year lifetime:

     

    •      Downwind of Union Pacific rail repair yard, Roseville, California: approximately 800 deaths per million people per 70-year lifetime: about a 0.5 percent increase in the cancer death rate

     

    •      VW diesel cheating (if continued at the present level – estimate by the Sacramento Bee): approximately 900 deaths per million people per 70-year lifetime: about a 0.5 percent increase in the cancer death rate

     

    •      Downwind of the worst California rail-truck facility, in San approximately 2,500 deaths per million people per 70-year lifetime: (ARB report, San Bernardino BNSF): about a 1.3 percent increase in the cancer death rate. This rate equates to < (fewer than) 1,000 people in the city of San Bernardino

     

    Now compare that to the impact of very fine and ultra-fine metals from brakes:

     

    •      Bakersfield, in the city center: approximately 25 percent increase in the heart attack deaths (this rate affects about 350,000 people in the city of Bakersfield)

     

    Thus the death rate in Bakersfield, enhanced by approximately 25 percent in the death rate of the single largest source of mortality in a city of 350,000 people, can be compared to the enhanced death rate at the worst California site impacted by diesel – about 1.3 percent in a population of no more than a few thousand people. So while considerable success has been achieved in controlling diesel, two proven killers – very fine and ultra-fine metals – slide by under the radar. As I said in Chapter 4, “…the Worst of Acts.”

     

    Note added in proof:

     

    We have just published a paper on Detroit that includes the final statement of the abstract: “…This result supports earlier publications showing the ability of very fine and ultra-fine particles to transport to sites well removed from the freeway sources. The concentrations of very fine and ultra-fine metals from brake wear and zinc in motor oil observed in Detroit have the potential of being a significant component in statistically established PM2.5 mortality rates.”

     

    •      Cahill, Thomas A., David E. Barnes, Jonathan A Lawton, Roger Miller, Nicholas Spada, Robert D. Willis and Sue Kimbrough (the last 2 EPA OAPQS North Carolina). 2016, September. “Transition Metals in Coarse, Fine, Very Fine and Ultra-Fine Particles From an Interstate Highway Transect Near Detroit.” Atmospheric Environment (Sept. 2016).

     

    Detroit is a lot bigger than Bakersfield. The word is getting out.

     

    References

     

    Cahill, Thomas A., David E. Barnes, Jonathan A. Lawton, Roger Miller, Nicholas Spada, Robert D. Willis, and Sue Kimbrough.  2016. “Transition Metals in Coarse, Fine, Very Fine and Ultra-Fine Particles From an Interstate Highway Transect Near Detroit. Atmospheric Environment (in press).

     

    Cahill, Thomas A., David E. Barnes, and Nicholas J. Spada. 2014. “Seasonal Variability of Ultra-Fine Metals Downwind of a Heavily Traveled Secondary Road.” Atmospheric Environment 94: 173–179. Cahill, Thomas A. David E. Barnes, Nicholas J. Spada, Jonathan A. Lawton, and Thomas M. Cahill. 2011. “Very Fine and Ultra-fine Metals and Ischemic Heart Disease in the California Central Valley 1: 2003–2007.” Aerosol Science and Technology 45: 1125–1134. doi:10.1080/02786826.2011.582194

     

    Cahill, Thomas A., David E. Barnes, Earl Withycombe, and Mitchell Watnik. 2011. “Very Fine and Ultra-fine Metals and Ischemic Heart Disease in the California Central Valley 2: 1974–1991.” Aerosol Science and Technology 45:1135–1142. doi:10.1080/02786826.2011.582196.

     

    Cahill, Thomas A., Thomas M. Cahill, David E. Barnes, Nicholas J. Spada, and Roger Miller. 2011. “Inorganic and Organic Aerosols Downwind of California’s Roseville Railyard.” Aerosol Science and Technology 45: 1049–1059. doi:10.1080/02786826.2011.580796.

     

    Cahill, Thomas A., Debrina Dutcher, Chris Clark, Jeanette Martin, Theresa McCarthy, and David Lipnick. June 1998. “Comparison of Cardiac and Stroke Mortality to Carbon Monoxide, Ozone, and Particulate Air Pollutant Concentrations in the Sacramento region: Final Report to the American Lung Association of Sacramento – Emigrant Trails.”

     

    Cahill, Thomas M. 2010. “Size-resolved Organic Speciation of Wintertime Aerosols in California’s Central Valley.” Environmental Science and Technology 44: 2315–2321. doi: 10.1021/es902936v. Cahill, Thomas M., and Thomas A. Cahill. 2013. “Seasonal Variability of Particle-associated Organic Compounds Near a Heavily Traveled Secondary Road.” Aerosol Science and Technology. doi: 10.1080/02786826.2013.857757

     

    Gauderman, W. J., R. McConnell, F. Gilliland, S. London, D. Thomas, E. Avol, H. Vora, K. Berhane, E. B. Rappaport, F. Lurmann, H.G. Margolis, and J. Peters. (2000). “Association Between Air Pollution and Lung Function Growth in Southern California Children.” Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 162: 1383–1390.

     

    Volk, H.E., I. Hertz-Picciotto, L. Delwiche, F. Lurmann, and R. McConnell. 2011. “Residential Proximity to Freeways and the CHARGE Study.” Environmental Health Perspectives 119 (6): 872–877.

     

     

    Keep in mind that Dr. Cahill measured very fine and ultra fine metals at Olive Dr. near Nishi.  We still don’t know if it might be worse at Nishi.

    So David, you can start acknowledging (what there has always been evidence for if you bothered to look) other health effects in addition to cancer rather than dismissing them out of hand because you chose to put your head in the sand.

  8. Tia Will

    Would all of want to live next to major freeway for “only a few years”? “

    That would of course depend on our alternatives. As opposed to living on or near my campus or place of employment allowing me to bike or ride daily, my answer would be “no, of course not”. If my alternative would be to drive 20-30 minutes to and from home, suddenly living near a major freeway in a home that has mitigating features, is looking much better. Different people will, of course, prioritize differently. This to me is a good argument for full disclosure, not necessarily enough to damn the project.

    1. Howard P

      My two cents… proximity to freeway… 101, San Mateo, 1955-1978… 300 feet away… no cancer, no heart disease… not with parents or sibs either (oops, have no sibs!).

      Traffic may have increased since then, but cars and trucks were much “dirtier” then… by orders of magnitude!

      I say again, air pollution risks risks of morbidity/mortality @ the Nishi site are de minimus.  Definitely compared to all the other risks in each of our lives.

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