The dirty truth about dirty diesel

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Soccoro Diaz is a single mom with seven kids. Just a few years ago her family was homeless and staying at a hotel. Now they live in a small, two-story, low-income apartment at the Jordan Downs Housing Projects in Watts in South Central LA. Three of her children suffer from acute asthma. Why are her kids — and a lot of other kids across LA County — sick? It’s probably the air.

A recent “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association gives LA County’s air quality a big fat ‘F.’  Smog, the brown stuff also known as ozone pollution, is still a problem – though it’s a lot better than it used to be. But there’s also particle pollution – sometimes called soot. And where does soot come from? According to the report, things that drive and fly cause 90 percent of the pollution in the region.  Diesel-fueled trucks, trains, and ships are a big part of that. That’s the soot. And there’s one place where all these vehicles come together – The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  The report calls the areas near the ports “hot spots.” 

Produced by Tena Rubio with p hotography by Blair Wells. 

 Listen to the radio version of the story:

This was produced as part of the Independent Producer Project, KCRW’s initiative to cultivate and support the work of independent media producers and artists, and as a project for USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, The California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships.