Congratulations to the Los Angeles Times for spurring Mayor Eric Garcetti into action, ensuring that air filters are installed in new homes next to freeways. The only problem, the paper and experts point out, is that a filter is not the best way to protect people living in freeway-adjacent housing from dangerous particulate matter.
“In recent years,” the L.A. Times notes, “Los Angeles and other California cities have approved the construction of thousands of homes near freeways, flouting more than a decade of warnings by air quality officials against building housing within 500 feet of heavy traffic. A mounting number of scientific studies link living near traffic pollution to asthma, cancer, heart attacks, preterm births and an array of other health problems.
“The 2016 ordinance signed by Garcetti required that new homes within 1,000 feet of a freeway have air filters meeting a standard of 13 on a 16-point industry scale — the minimum efficiency reporting value — that measures how effectively they block tiny pollution particles.
“But air quality officials and health experts have expressed skepticism that filters are an adequate solution.
“Although the devices capture some of the harmful particles in vehicle exhaust, they do nothing to stop toxic gases. They must be regularly replaced and are not effective unless the ventilation system is running — with all doors and windows closed.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti and the L.A. City Council still refuse to approve more meaningful protections for what’s known as “black lung lofts.” Such as, mandating that landlords and developers notify prospective tenants about freeway-adjacent health hazards and creating a 500-foot buffer zone for new residential development so homes will not be built directly next to a freeway.
With their inaction, Garcetti and the City Council continue to put the public’s health in harm’s way.
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