By Dr. James K. Brown
Oakland Tribune My Word © 2013 Bay Area News Group
August 6, 2013
One year ago Tuesday, a fire at Chevron’s Richmond oil refinery sent black smoke wafting across the East Bay.
Contra Costa Health Services asked residents to stay in their homes, close the windows, and wait it out. About 11,000 people sought medical treatment. Many suffered from eye, nasal and throat irritations that were short-lived. For those with pre-existing asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, their cough and shortness of breath increased dramatically, sometimes for extended periods.
This refinery fire was a dramatic demonstration that air pollution is bad for our health. A more compelling concern is the evidence that chronic, low-level exposure to air pollution has serious long-lasting adverse effects, including stunting of lung growth and increasing asthma among children, premature death in those with chronic lung diseases, and heart attacks.