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Excerpted from Galena-Park-Monitoring-Report-FINAL.pdf

Continued from http://publiclab.org/wiki/edit/galena-park-monitoring-report

IV. Diesel Particulate Pollution Presents Unacceptable Health Risks

Diesel pollution presents unacceptable health risks in Galena Park, including elevated risks of cancer, cardiovascular mortality, and cardiovascular and respiratory hospitalization. Twenty nine samples were collected between November 2012 and September 2013 for evaluation of diesel pollution. Samples were analyzed for elemental carbon/organic carbon and total carbon content by NIOSH method 5040 using an OC-EC Aerosol Analyzer. Elemental carbon was used as a diesel surrogate.

A. Diesel Pollution Exposure in Galena Park can Present Excess Risk of Cardiovascular Mortality and Cardiovascular and Respiratory Hospitalizations.

Dr. Chernaik’s analysis identifies excess risks of cardiovascular mortality and cardiovascular and respiratory hospitalizations in Galena Park due to exposure to diesel pollution. Dr. Chernaik used certain thresholds for risk factors for exposure to elemental carbon in his analysis. In his words:

When EC levels are above 1 microgram per cubic meter (μg/m3), then one can conclude that this location is an area impacted by diesel engine emissions.17

When 24-hour EC levels at a location are above 1.36 μg/m3, then they are high enough to be associated with an excess risk of cardiovascular mortality two and three-days post exposure.18

When 24-hour EC levels at a location are above 0.838 μg/m3, then they are high enough to be associated with an excess risk of cardiovascular and respiratory hospitalizations on the day of exposure.19 20

The following table lists all elemental carbon results and compares them to the exposure thresholds identified by Dr. Chernaik.

Table 3: Elemental Carbon Pollution Results

Table_3__Elemental_Carbon_Pollution_Results.png

Denny Larson of Global Community Monitor adds that two samples are within 75% of the 1.36 μg/m3 threshold and an additional eight samples are within 75% of the 0.838 μg/m3 threshold. This means that more than half of all samples (15 of 29) either exceeded the 0.838 μg/m3 or 1.36 μg/m3 thresholds or were within 75% of those numbers. The average of all samples, 0.75 μg/m3, is 89% of the lower threshold 0.838 μg/m3.21

GPISD_Early_Head_Start_Center.png

Larson also notes that the Early Head Start Center had both the second highest average elemental carbon levels and the second highest single measurement of elemental carbon. The Early Head Start Center is used by infants and toddlers aged six weeks to three years. This is trouble because, as Larson explains, “the most vulnerable population is at serious risk due to diesel. While the City's intention in creating the Center is laudable, because of the Port, it is actually creating a hazard by attracting children to a location very heavily impacted by diesel and the Port.”22

This is a crucial point. The Early Head Start Center is an important resource for families and children in Galena Park. City officials owe it to the children of Galena Park to create safe, healthy environments in which they can thrive.

B. Cancer Risk in Galena Park due to Diesel Exposure Exceeds 1 in 10,000

Table 4: Cancer Risk due to Diesel

Location Cancer Risk
City Hall *
Resource Center 9.21E-05
Early Head Start 1.62E-04
Galena Manor 1.13E-04
Police Station 2.49E-04

* Insufficient data.

Many scientists and health professionals consider an acceptable cancer risk to be one additional cancer case in one million people, or 1E-06.24 By this standard, all four of the sampling locations with sufficient data have an unacceptable risk of cancer due to diesel pollution exposure. Cancer risk at the Resource Center is nearly 1 case in 10,000; cancer risk at Early Head Start, Galena Manor, and the Police Station exceeds 1 in 10,000. The highest risk measured, at the Police Station, is nearly 1 in 4,000.


  • 17 Even in urban areas, levels of EC in air samples almost never exceed 1 μg/m3 unless the sample is within a few hundred feet of road traffic. See: “Traffic emissions of elemental carbon (EC) and organic carbon (OC) and their contribution to PM2.5 and PM10 urban background concentrations (figures 2-12 and 2-13 on page 25).” http://www.mnp.nl/bibliotheek/rapporten/500099011.pdf
  • 18 In 2008, scientists from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) published a study about the relationship between cardiovascular mortality and the chemical composition of pollutant levels in ambient air in California. These scientists examined the relationship between cardiovascular mortality and the interquartile range (IQR = the difference between the third and first quartiles) of EC levels. The scientists found strongly significant associations between excess risk of cardiovascular mortality two and three-days post exposure and the IQR for EC. The average level of EC in ambient air samples in the study was 0.966 μg/m3. The IQR for EC was 0.795 μg/m3. In this study, the 4th quartile level of EC was 1.36 (0.966 + [0.795/2]) μg/m3. Ostro, et al. (2008) “The impact of components of fine particulate matter on cardiovascular mortality in susceptible subpopulations,” Occup. Environ. Med., 65;750-756.
  • 19 In 2009, scientists from Yale University, the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health and the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, published a study about the relationship between cardiovascular and respiratory hospitalizations, and the chemical composition of pollutant levels in ambient air in 106 different counties across the United States. These scientists examined the relationship between cardiovascular and respiratory hospitalizations and the IQR of EC levels. The scientists found strongly significant associations between excess risk of cardiovascular and respiratory hospitalizations and the IQR for EC. The average level of EC in ambient air samples in the study was 0.715 μg/m3. The IQR for EC was 0.245 μg/m3. In this study, the 4th quartile level of EC was 0.838 (0.715 + [0.245/2]) μg/m3. Bell, et al. (2009) “Hospital Admissions and Chemical Composition of Fine Particle Air Pollution,” Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 179:1115–1120.
  • 20 Email from Mark Chernaik to Adrian Shelley (18 Jan. 2013). Citations in original.
  • 21 Email from Denny Larson to Adrian Shelley (30 June 2014).
  • 22 Email from Denny Larson to Adrian Shelley (7 July 2014).
  • 23 This analysis is presented in more detail in the Campos Report. See Appendix A.
  • 24 See, e.g., http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/nata/natsafaq.html#B3.