Asthma In Imperial County
31
August

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , /


>>>>AMITA: IMPERIAL COUNTY HAS ONE OF THE
COUNTY A CHILDHOOD ASTHMA IN CALIFORNIA, HOSPITALIZATIONS IN ASTHMA ARE TOP OF THE STATE.
EXPERTS DON’T HAVE EXACT ANSWERS FOR WHY THAT IS.
IMPERIAL COUNTY IS A HOT AND DUSTY PLACE, IT’S ALSO AN AGRICULTURAL REGION AND A POPULAR
PLACE FOR OFF ROAD VEHICLES. OUR FRONTERAS REPORTER ADRIAN FLORIDO WENT
OUT TO UNDERSTAND HOW AIR QUALITY AFFECTS RESIDENTS IN THE AREA.
HOW MANY PEOPLE SUFFER FROM ASTHMA THERE?>>>>KEVIN CROWE: CHILDREN ARE HOSPITALIZED
FOR ASTHMA RELATED EMERGENCIES AT THREE TIMES THE STATE WIDE AVERAGE THERE, AND IN SOME
SCHOOLS UP TO 60 TO 70ĘPERCENT OF THE KIDS SUFFER FROM ASTHMA.
I SPOKE TO ONE FIFTH GRADER WHO SAID HIS SCHOOL NURSE HAS A DRAWER FULL OF ASTHMA MEDICATIONS,
INHALERS AND OTHERS SHE JUST KEEPS IN STORAGE FOR KIDS WHENEVER THEY NEED THEM.
>>>>AMITA: SO HOW DO PEOPLE COPE WITH THIS THERE?
>>>>ADRIAN FLORIDO: THERE’S A LOT OF WAYS, THEY STAY INSIDE, IF POSSIBLE, THEY TRY NOT
TO DO TOO MUCH EXERCISE WHEN IT’S HOT AND DUSTY.
I CAME UPON THIS INDOOR PLAY GROUND THAT THIS ONE WOMAN FOUNDED IN THE CITY OF IMPERIAL,
CALLED THE FAMILY TREE HOUSE, AND IT’S BASICALLY A PLAY GROUND INSIDE AN AIR CONDITIONED ROOM
KEPT COMPLETELY DUST FREE. THEY CLEAN FOR FOUR HOURS A DAY, BECAUSE SO
MANY OF THESE KIDS THE SLIGHTEST TRIGGER WILL HAVE AN ASTHMA ATTACK.
>>>>AMITA: YOU JUST RETURNED FROM THE IMPERIAL VALLEY.
YOU GOT TO SEE THIS AIR FIRST HAND. HOW BAD IS IT AND WHAT DID YOU FEEL?
>>>>ADRIAN FLORIDO: IT’S AWFUL. I PERSONALLY HAVE ASTHMA, SO I FELT IT AS
I WAS GOING AROUND AND GETTING A TOUR, FROM A LOCAL ACTIVIST WHO WAS SHOWING ME A LOT
OF THESE DUST SOURCES. ONE INTERESTING THING HAPPENING IN IMPERIAL
COUNTY IS BECAUSE PLACES LIKE LOS ANGELES ARE STARVED FOR WATER OR GOING DRY, THEY’RE
BUYING SOME OF THE SHARE OF THE COLORADO RIVER THAT THE IMPERIAL COUNTY HAS.
SO THE IMPERIAL COUNTY IS TRANSFERRING A LOT OF ITS WATER TO SAN DIEGO AND LOS ANGELES.
THE COUNTY IS PAYING FARMERS TO STOP GROWING. BECAUSE OF THAT, A LOT OF THIS AGRICULTURAL
LAND IS GOING DRY AND THIS SCORCHING HEAT SORT OF TURNS INT INTO THIS KIND OF CRISP
EXPANSE, ONE THAT WIND PICKS UP, A LOT OF THIS DUST GETS KICKED UP IN THE AIR AND THESE
TOWN BUSINESS KM A GIANT DUST BOWL.>>>>AMITA: THIS LAND IS HAVING AN AFFECT
ON THE SALTON SEA, AND PEOPLE EXPECT THIS TO GET WORSE, HOW MUCH WORSE?
>>>>ADRIAN FLORIDO: IT’S VERY NEAR THESE TOWNS, JUST NORTH WEST.
A LOT OF THE WATER THAT WOULD BE USED FOR AGRICULTURE ENDS UP AS AGRICULTURAL RUN OFF.
IT’S WHAT KEEPS THE SALTON SEA FROM DISAPPEARING AND DRYING UP.
A LOT OF THIS WATER IS BEING TRANSFERRED TO SAN DIEGO AND LOS ANGELES, THAT AGRICULTURAL
RUN OFF IS NOT KEEPING IT AT LEVELS IT USED TO BE.
BECAUSE IT’S AGRICULTURAL RUN OFF T HAS A LOT OF PESTICIDES.
AS THE SEA DRIES UP, THE SEDIMENT IS BEING EXPOSED AND THAT ONLY AGGRAVATES THE AIR WHEN
THESE WIND STORMS COME BY AND KICK UP A LOT OF THIS SEDIMENT.
SO THAT’S ANOTHER BIG CONCERN IS HOW THE CONTINUED DRYING UP ON THE SALTON SEA WILL ONLY FURTHER
AGGRAVATE THE AIR QUALITY.>>>>AMITA: WHAT ARE REGULATORY AGENCIES DOING
ABOUT THIS?>>>>ADRIAN FLORIDO: THERE ARE RULES THAT
THE COUNTY HAS IN PLACE TO MAKE SURE THAT FARMERS, FOR EXAMPLE, DO CERTAIN THINGS TO
INSURE THAT WHEN THESE DUST STORMS COME BY, WHEN THESE WIND STORMS COME BY, THAT DUST
DOESN’T GET PICKED UP. THE EPA ACTUALLY RECENTLY SLAPPED IMPERIAL
COUNTY WITH SANCTIONS BECAUSE ITS RULES IT FELT WERE NOT STRONG ENOUGH TO PREVENT POLLUTION
IN THE AIR. AND THEY’RE CURRENTLY IN THE NEGOTIATION PROCESS,
THEY RECENTLY REACHED A SETTLEMENT AND THE COUNTY IS GOING TO START TO REVISE ITS RULES
TO INSURE THAT THINGS LIKE AGRICULTURE, OFF ROAD VEHICLES REDUCE EMISSIONS.
>>>>AMITA: WHAT IS THE FEELING OF RESIDENTS? ARE THEY UNITED IN FIGHTING THIS PROBLEM?
>>>>ADRIAN FLORIDO: THE SORT OF ACTIVIST AND ADVOCACY COMMUNITY IN IMPERIAL COUNTY
IS VERY SMALL AND SEEMS TO BE JUST BE GETTING OFF THE GROUND.
THERE ARE KIND OF SMALL GROUPS OF PEOPLE TRYING TO MOBILIZE AROUND THIS ISSUE.
A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE JUST CONCERNED WITH THE DAY TO DAY, PUTTING FOOD ON THE TABLE, SO
THAT’S ONE OF THE CHALLENGES ADVOCATES THERE, TRYING TO GET PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND THE PROBLEM
AND MOBILIZE PEOPLE TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
>>>>AMITA: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SPEAKING TO US TODAY.


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