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Conference zeroes in on international pollution problems


April 13, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Crowded around a conference table Thursday, experts from Imperial County and Baja California discussed the air pollution problems that affect both countries.

Kimberly Collins, director of the California Center for Border and Regional Economic Studies at San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campus, said the meeting was noteworthy for something that didn't happen.

"There was none of the fingerpointing that is so often a part of these types of meetings," Collins said.

She said meeting attendees didn't spend the entire time blaming each other for their respective country's air pollution.

She said all participants worked constructively to put together materials to educate the populace about the dangers from air pollution.

Because of air pollution, an Imperial Valley resident is two times as likely to die of respiratory illness compared to other Californians, according to the American Lung Association.

For the past few months CCBRES has been conducting air pollution public forums with the institute of engineering of the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California of Mexicali, the Southwest Center for Environmental Research and Policy and Mexicali's Regional Center for Environmental and Socioeconomic Studies.


The meeting Thursday brought all the principles together in a SDSU-IV conference room to discuss what is working and what isn't.

The results of a survey on the effectiveness of the forums were given to all attendees. While the majority of the scores were high, there were individual anonymous comments that recommended changes.

One read: "I had hoped to hear more community members voicing their specific concerns. There was some questioning, but very little discussion. Thus, I am not sure a give and take was achieved."

Others commented on the lack of promotion of the forums and their locations.

Those concerns were echoed by those attending the meeting.

Collins and representatives from CCBRES wrote down the comments and vowed to e-mail the participating agencies with her solutions.

The first three forums were in February and early March, with the intent of gathering information for pamphlets that would be given to English and Spanish readers to educate them on the risks to their health brought by air pollution.

Those pamphlets have been printed and will be passed out in subsequent weeks.

The upcoming forums will be designed solely to hear input and formulate solutions to the air pollution problem, Collins said.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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