A toxic tour: Neighborhoods struggle with health threats from traffic pollution.
The nation's top environmental health official visited the Los Angeles/Long Beach harbor area to witness first-hand how communities are struggling with health issues related to pollution. “Los Angeles has its share of health problems and we suspect many of them are environmentally related,” said Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Several times a year, Birnbaum visits communities – many in low-income, minority areas – where federal research dollars are spent to study pollutants and human health. The harbor area is what environmental activists call the “diesel death zone.” Emissions from trucks, ships and other diesel-powered sources envelop the region, and scientists from USC have found connections to an array of health effects.