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Voice: Diesel power plants a bad idea for our health

June 04, 2001

A policy of investing in diesel generators would be a mistake, threatening the lung health of our community.

Diesel combustion gives off some of the most toxic pollution we know. The cough-producing, airway-tightening "dirty electricity" produced by diesel combustion should have no place in our region's long-term search for energy solutions.

Even with short-term use, the cancer-causing pollution from this kind of generator has serious health consequences, such as the worsening of asthma and emphysema. The American Lung Association urges our community to limit our dependence on diesel generators to only the most serious electricity emergencies.

The region urgently needs better information about whether diesel generators are located close to schools, nursing homes or other sensitive places, and about whether some generators are producing less pollution and should be more frequently used.

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Immediately, the work of monitoring these generators — an effort now left entirely to each generator's owner — must be undertaken by the Air Pollution Control District. We call on the Air Pollution Control District to complete its inventory of the region's diesel generators, to provide an orderly measurement of what is being produced both in terms of electricity and pollution and to implement an effective enforcement plan.

We call on our political leaders to speak out in this time of trouble on the wisdom of keeping health-based limits on polluting emissions. Reliance on diesel generators is a fear-based strategy with unacceptable health consequences. Better alternatives are available.

JANIE DAVIS

President and CEO

JAN CORTEZ

Vice president for

research and environment

American Lung Association of San Diego and Imperial counties

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