Letter to the City Council from Devra Davis, PhD

Devra Davis, who was a Lead Author of chapters of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—the group awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007, recently sent a letter to the Lafayette City Council regarding the proposed sports field.

Click here for the full letter

It’s worth reading the full letter, but here are some of the points made in the letter:

I have reviewed the April 2018 Deer Hill Park and Sports Field assessment prepared by Placeworks. The following issues with the methodology are apparent:

  • Ultra fine particulate matter that contains toxic heavy metals that are especially hazardous to young developing brains and bodies was not considered;
  • No onsite monitoring data was utilized, either as a basis for the report or as a check on the proposed result
  • Available PM 2.5 data from comparable sites monitored by air districts in the Bay Area or southern California was likewise not consulted
  • The reported conclusion of increased PM 2.5 of 0.44 micrograms/M3 is extremely low and does not appear reliable for a location with vehicle traffic reportedly of 12,000, 36,000, and 185,000 per day on the north, east, and south- this figure should have been verified and compared with on site or available offsite PM 2.5 monitoring data.
  • The study does not include a focus on exposure of children to particulate matter and other vehicle generated contaminants during peak periods such as after-school weekdays use when commuter traffic on the nearby corridors is at a peak
  • The averaging methods applied understate the risk considerably. Thus, an annual average for the site was calculated that appears to include weekends and intraday periods when traffic is low necessarily resulting in a lowered result
  • Further, there is no analysis for asthma or diminished lung capacity. In particular, to the extent the report assumes that high intensity children’s activities for 2 hours per day is safe in this environment, no medical or regulatory authority is cited; to the contrary, available international and U.S. medical studies contradict this conclusion.

It is unfortunate that the discussion has been framed as one of debating or awaiting proof of harm to our children, before taking steps to prevent exposing them to conditions that have been established in extensive studies to place them at risk. The idea that you would put a field for children to play in an area where the adjacent residences are required to have filters for the air inside the house, and warnings to residents of exposure to particulate matter if the windows are opened, is one of the most unwise and imprudent instances of urban planning I have ever encountered.