ARB OKs $1.2 MILLION FOR NEW ACID RAIN RESEARCH
For immediate release
The California Air Resources Board has approved $1.2 million for new acid rain research, highlighted by some of the first projects in the country to study the effects of acidic pollution on human health.
Three health studies will be conducted by the University of California in addition to a pair of projects to be completed by other science labs that will study tlie cost of acid rain damage on buildings and other man-made structures. The Board's action begins the second year of a 5-year, $18 million research plan to study the unique aspects of California's acid rain problem.
"California was long thought to be immune from acid rain until Air Resources Board research proved otherwise a few years ago," noted ARB Chairman Gordon Duffy. "We don't think
our environment has been damaged by acid rain, but our research has shown that pollution here is as acidic as in any other part of the world and has a unique chemical make-up to it."
"We have a unique opportunity to prevent in calitornia the types of irreversible environmental damage that has devastated other parts of the world, and this accelerated research program will give us the clues we need to controlling acid rain," Duffy said.
"Most studies around the world have concentrated on the chemical makeup of acid rain or its effect on lakes and forests, which are among the most vulnerable parts of our environment. While we also will continue our work on these types of proejcts, the ARB is building a foundation for more study of a long-ignored and extremely important aspect of acid rain: it's effect on human health," Duffy said.
All three of the health studies will investigate the effects of acidity on people suffering from chronic respiratory diseases, including asthma, which is one of the most widespread respiratory diseases in California.
In the largest of the health studies, worth $453,052, daily changes in lung capacity of 100 asthmatics from Irvine and Costa Mesa would be monitored for a year and compared to changes in acidic pollution levels. This area of orange county was chosen for the study because it has recorded the highest acid fog levels in the state ana researchers believe humans are more likely to inhale acidic pollutants in fog than any other form of moisture. The study would be conducted by the University of California, Irvine. UC-Irvine researchers also will conduct a laboratory study in which rats will be exposed to a mix of acid pollutants and others commonly found in urban areas. changes in breathing rates, tissue damage and the death of lung cells would be recorded and may be clues to the most acute health damage to be expected in humans. Funding for the study is $264,672.
In a second laboratory study, UC-San Francisco researchers would expose 10 asthmatics to a variety of acidic mixtures to determine if the human body reacts differently to different types of acidity or to pollutants that are more acidic than others. Reactions in humans, such as constricting airways or tissue damage, would be compared to similar reactions of guinea pigs who will also be exposed to the same pollutants. Funds for the study total $125,457.
In a companion study, Environmental Monitoring and Services, Inc., of Thousand Oaks will conduct laboratory tests on building materials to compare the effects of natural weathering to those caused by acidic pollution. Results in the laboratory would be complimented by a year-long survey of property damage at four, yet-to-be-decided-locations in California. Funding for the project is $297,562.