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Will Mayoral Candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel Take Action to Protect Mothers and Children From Air Pollution?

Another important study about the impacts of air pollution on children was released last week, but don't expect mayoral frontrunners Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel to say or do anything specific about it.

In 2010, L.A. Weekly exposed in the cover story "Black Lung Lofts" the dangerous side effects of building condos, schools, and low-income apartment buildings near busy freeways, where particulate matter from cars and trucks can seriously damage the health of children, the elderly, and people who are already sick with heart or respiratory problems.

Now researchers at UC-San Francisco and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have come out with a major study connecting air pollution to mothers who give birth to children with low birth weights, which is linked to serious health problems later in life.

Analyzing data collected from more than 3 million births in nine nations at 14 sites in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, co-principal investigator Tracey J. Woodruff, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive sciences at UC-San Francisco and Jennifer Parker of the National Center for Health Statistics, CDC, "found that at sites worldwide, the higher the pollution rate, the greater the rate of low birth weight," a press release from UC-San Francisco states.

The press release adds, "Low birth weight -- a weight below 2500 grams or 5.5 pounds -- is associated with serious health consequences, including increased risk of postnatal morbidity and mortality and chronic health problems in later life."

The study is clearly a heads up for politicians in Los Angeles, which is home to some of the worst air pollution in the country. But don't expect Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, or many others at City Hall to act quickly.

Years ago, USC researchers came out with alarming studies offering proof that living near a freeway was extremely dangerous to ones health, especially children and seniors.

But the L.A. City Council, on which Garcetti and Greuel have been members, has done little, if anything, over the years to create recommended "buffer zones," in which developers would not be allowed to build apartment buildings or condos within 500 feet of a freeway.

Will the mayoral candidates pledge to do something about this health hazard that's clearly not going away? Or will they continue to ignore the scientific studies?

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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