Southern California, a semi-arid region in the best of times, is getting drier. Our wildfire season used to be September and October; now it's year-round. Another life-threatening year-round problem in California is air pollution. Two recent studies yet again confirm the link between air pollution and our personal and environmental health.
Many people attribute this increasing aridity and fire danger to global climate change. An additional factor that may be overlooked is the effect of old-fashioned air pollution.
For example, a recent study in China concluded that "the number of days of light rainfall in eastern China decreased by 23% from 1956 to 2005 because of air pollution." The causative agent may be the formation of aerosols, small particles that can be created by burning fossil fuels, that may interfere with the formation of rain clouds. Burning fossil fuel is also the main cause of smog-causing ozone in our area.
Worried yet? OK, here's some more troubling news. A recent study published in the journal Toxicology found that: "Sperm counts are lower in mice whose mothers were exposed during pregnancy to a mixture of particles found in diesel exhaust." The report of the study that I read in Environmental Health News stated that the nature and amount of the pollutants used in the experiment "corresponds to about 10 years worth of exposure to air pollution in humans."
Here in Southern California, we see very high levels of diesel particulate pollution near our ports and freeways. This is the price we are, and have been, paying for the shipment of cheap goods from Asia through our local ports to our stores and to stores all over the United States. At some point, people are going to decide that that allowing industry to harm our health and our physical environment for free isn't good for us.