Background to the February 21, Public meeting

 

There was a public meeting Monday, Feb 21 at the Ridge golf course in Auburn, about the proposed asphalt plant in Meadow Vista (to be operated by Teichert Corp. and Chevreaux Gravel Plant.) There wasn’t anyone present from the County Health Office to speak with any knowledge or authority about the health ramifications of this project in Meadow Vista, so I took the floor and presented the results of my research.

 

The residents of the Meadow Vista area (including residents of the Nevada County side of Lake Combie), and parents of children in the Meadow Vista schools (Placer Hills, Sierra Hills and Live Oak-Waldorf) are extremely concerned about the health hazards of this project.  That was one of the main points of the meeting and is really the main concern of the people.  I would like to give you the text of my talk, which I was able to present with only one rather tense and aggravating interruption.

 

First of all, a quick C.V. so you know my background:

 

DANIEL FOREMAN, M.D.

  • Carmel High, High Honors, 1975.
  • University of California, Santa Barbara, 1981, 3.97 G.P.A., Phi Beta Kappa, Valedictorian – graduation speaker, B.A. in Biochemistry.
  • PhD program in Bio-Physics at U.C. Berkeley, 4.0 G.P.A, 1981-1982
  • Baylor College of Medicine, M.D., 1986.  
  • Internship at Emanuel Hospital and Med center, Portland, OR
  • Aerospace Medicine-mini residency, Naval Aerospace Medical Institute, graduated #1 with Fox Flag award, 1987     
  • Flight Surgeon, Commander, U.S. Navy, 1988–1992, based out of Miramar and on the Aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.  Extensive experience in environmental medicine, ER Medicine and family practice while in the navy.     
  • Ophthalmology residency at UC San Francisco, 1992-1995.
  • Ophthalmologist in private practice, 1995-present.  Current practice in Auburn.

 

Text of Dr. Foreman’s Talk

 

I started off Monday night’s presentation with the question:  “Is one child’s life worth $40 million?”:  “My name is Dan Foreman.  I’m a physician in Auburn and have been an M.D. for 18 years.  I have researched this project extensively and my medical conclusion is that it will seriously affect the health and well-being of the Meadow Vista area residents (not just the ones adjacent to the truck route and asphalt plant.)  More importantly, it will jeopardize the health and safety of the children of the three schools of Meadow Vista, particularly the two along Placer Hills Road (one of which is only 50 feet from the road.)  These little children, with their high respiratory rates, developing lungs, running around on playgrounds will be the most affected.  Numerous studies done around the world have shown that there is a permanent decrease in lung function and development as a result of air pollution, particularly diesel truck pollution.  These children will also have a much higher incidence of asthma and the precipitation of asthma attacks with hospitalizations.  In fact, there is new legislation which requires new schools to be built at least 500 feet from traffic flows.  A review article published by the New England Journal of Medicine in 2004 on air pollution states that the mortality and morbidity exposure to response is linear, i.e., there is no safe threshold.  It is well-documented in hundreds of state, federal and worldwide environmental studies, published in renowned Scientific Journals, that toxins from diesel fuel and asphalt can cause serious health hazards, both in the short term and long term.  These effects will be especially grave in the Meadow Vista community because of its unique geography and weather patterns.  Meadow Vista sits in a bowl-like valley, which is an inversion area and acts as a pollution trap.  In fact, Placer Hills School is one of the two spots in the entire county that monitors air pollution. 

 

Asphalt fumes have been shown to cause respiratory disease, brain, lung and prostate cancer, central nervous system disorders, liver damage, personality disorders, depression and suicide.  Public health studies have shown that at even low levels, permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system can occur, especially in children. 

 

The effects of diesel fuel are much better documented and probably worse.  The mechanism of this involves small diesel emission particles and among all the pollutants from diesel fuel, this is probably the main culprit.  These small diesel emission particles, less than 2.5 to 10 microns in size, penetrate deep into the lungs, cause damage there, and are absorbed into the blood vessels and cross into the cells and start a cascade of inflammation.  The diseases that result from this are asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart attacks, stroke, birth defects, lung cancer and, as I stated before, permanent decrease in lung function in adults and in children.  The reason they cause heart attacks, strokes and vascular disease is because they inflame the blood vessels and cause resultant pathology.

 

The arguments that the asphalt plant is state-of-the-art and that the overall air pollution would be greater if trucks travel from Marysville and Sacramento, are at best misleading.  They don’t consider the local environment.  In fact, I spoke to Janice Kim, M.D., who is a doctor with Environmental Health in Oakland, and she says it is much worse to have trucks stopping, starting and accelerating than to have trucks on the open freeway running at a constant speed.  She has done many studies, including a study on air pollution adjacent to schools in the Oakland area, in conjunction with UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lawrence Laboratories.

 

I will ask you, and I am sure you would agree, that you would much prefer to have a thousand trucks on the open freeway than one truck running in your garage.

 

Clearly, an environmental impact report should be done given the gravity of the situation and it will most assuredly show that Meadow Vista is inappropriate and it would have serious and deadly consequences for the community.  People will die from this.”