Impacts and Actions

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Photo (c) 2005 Scott Braley
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Port of Oakland: Private Industry or Public Agency

A2-1 Page 35 Alternate smallIn the United States, there are 361 public ports. The Port of Oakland, the fourth largest, processes about $30 billion of exports and imports annually. Oakland’s enormous cranes, unloading gigantic ships, mean a lot of money is changing hands. But critics say local communities are being short-changed on benefits and plagued with negative impacts. “It’s not a private business, it’s a public agency and its revenue is not profit. It belongs to the people.” So says Rob Smith of Urban Strategies in Oakland.


Short-changed on the benefits but plagued by the Port’s negative impacts—it’s the harsh reality of life in West Oakland, an area hardest hit by the health impacts of port operations. Residents fear that port expansion plans will only bring more pollution from the additional diesel-burning trucks, ships, and trains into their neighborhoods—and into their lungs.

The Port of Oakland also runs Oakland International Airport and 19 miles of bayside real estate that includes office parks, shopping areas, restaurants, and luxury apartment complexes. It is by far the largest agency in Oakland city government, but it makes economic and policy decisions without direct public accountability, thanks to a 1927 law that made the Port independent of the city.

Recent property sales by the Port have some community advocates wondering about the future of Oakland’s waterfront neighborhoods, and questioning whether the Port should retain its autonomy. West Oakland residents—who face increased cancer risks, higher rates of asthma, and greater susceptibility to heart attacks—want something done about the pollution caused by the Port.

Global Trade Drives Port Growth
A boom in international trade has forced an overhaul of the Oakland waterfront, claims Port spokesperson Marilyn Sandifur, adding that the import/export volume is expected to double in the next 15 years.

“We have a seven billion dollar annual impact on the region and affect 44,000 jobs, so it’s important that we… keep up-to-date with the kind of improvements and enhancements [needed],” says Sandifur.

Port officials claim that their anti-pollution measures are reducing health impacts, but they generally neglect to mention that most of their air quality programs are the result of a 1998 legal settlement involving the Port’s Vision 2000 expansion plan. (See sidebar.)

Oakland lawsuit wins $9 million in air pollution mitigation measures12-1 Page 37 Alternate

Most of the air quality programs at the Port of Oakland stem from a 1998 legal settlement involving the Ports Vision 2000 expansion plan. Nearby West Oakland residents were concerned about air pollution from the proposed expansion. Noting that roughly 20 percent of children in West Oakland suffer from asthma, one local activist alleged that the Port’s activities were “literally killing us.” The Golden Gate Environmental Law and Justice Clinic took the Port to court on behalf of West Oakland residents. The Port settled with a $9 million Air Quality Mitigation Plan, the most stringent diesel exhaust mitigation plan ever proposed by a port up to that point. The plan includes nine measures, some of which reduce pollution from other sources in the community to make up for increased emissions from Port activities. The implementation of the measures is guided by a technical review panel composed of representatives from the community, regulatory agencies, and environmental groups.

Excerpted from the Natural Resources Defense Council Report Harboring Pollution: The Dirty Truth about U.S Ports.

Trains carrying goods through west Oakland. Photo (c) 2005 Scott Braley

Despite community concerns, the Port keeps on growing. Even the harbor is growing. “We’re deepening [it] to accommodate [the] larger ships in order to keep Oakland a significant international gateway, and keep the economy of the Bay Area… going,” Sandifur says.

The Port is certainly profitable, raking in over $250 million a year. A small, but not insignificant portion of which—approximately 11 million dollars this fiscal year, according to Harold Jones, Port Communications Director—comes from real estate development on public land.

Real Estate Deals
Last year, the Port caused a furor when it made a last-minute change to an environmental impact statement and approved construction of a Wal-Mart in East Oakland within 30 days—with no public input. It caused additional public concern when it offered the property developer, Simeon, a $10 million dollar loan of public funds, characterized by Mr. Jones as a deferred payment.

Tim Frank, a senior policy advisor for Sierra Club’s Healthy Communities Campaign, calls Wal-Mart a “car-centric, poverty-wage, sweatshop-buying store that causes freeway congestion and undermines neighborhoods. Wal-Mart drives main street stores that serve the community out of business, and is bad for the environment and neighborhoods.”

Ironically, the Port had originally promoted the development as a “transit-oriented business campus” that would connect to BART. Instead, it will add more cars to the already congested interstate 880 freeway corridor. When the office project fell through, John Protopappas, president of the Port’s Board of Commissioners and CEO of Madison Park Real Estate Investment Trust, maintained his confidence in Simeon’s direction for the property.  He told the East Bay Business Times,  “The key is to develop the property, and the developer is doing the right thing because this is the way the market is going.”

The Port is already a major source of air pollution. Research by the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project and the Pacific Institute, shows that trucks traveling through West Oakland to the Port daily produce as much toxic soot as 127,677 cars. West Oakland residents face greater cancer risks, higher rates of asthma, increased susceptibility to heart attacks, and many other adverse health effects resulting from living on a thoroughfare for trucks between three major highways and the Port of Oakland. 

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“Wal-Mart,” says Dawn Phillips of Just Cause Oakland, “is a perfect example of poor use of Port and city resources.  It sucks up public dollars for infrastructure to build a development that creates the worst forms of low-wage jobs lacking health benefits and worker protections.” And while Wal-Mart prices may be lower to the consumer, “The reality is that those cheap goods come at a very high price: exploitation of workers that work for the store directly, and the workers who produce the goods for the store here and internationally.  Wal-Mart is, in fact, one of the world’s worst corporate employers.”

But Wal-Mart is a natural ally of the big business board members at the Port. It is a member of the West Coast Waterfront Coalition, which united with the shipping lines against labor during a 2002 lockout. It is also at the receiving end of the international supply chain that Sandifur celebrates as the engine for economic growth. It is no coincidence that those diesel trucks that pollute West Oakland are usually carrying sweatshop manufactured goods to Wal-Mart and other Waterfront Coalition members like the Gap, Home Depot, Target, Best Buy, and Payless Shoes—all low-wage landmarks of U.S. retailing.

Public Interest Not Included
What might surprise many is that despite the money the Port makes commercially, because of a 1927 State Tidelands Trust law, the Port does not pay taxes. Instead the City receives payment for services rendered. Port spokesperson Sandifur says that they will pay approximately 15 million dollars this year for services like police, fire, and Lake Merritt maintenance. She points out that Port tenants also generate sales tax revenues in the tens of millions and parking and utility taxes of 6 million dollars.

The Port is run by an unelected board of seven members, nominated by the Mayor and confirmed by the Oakland City Council for four-year terms. At a recent but typical meeting of the Port’s real estate committee, chaired by John Protopappas, a well-known developer and political ally of Mayor Jerry Brown, only four minutes out of one hour and 20 minutes were open to the public. The rest of the meeting was taken up by closed door sessions about development projects and leases with private real estate interests, such a Harbor Partners, Ellis Partners, Simeon, and Hensel Phelps.

Exactly what sort of give-and-take the real estate deals include is confidential, but as long-time Oakland watcher Douglas Allen-Taylor points out in his column at the Berkeley Daily Planet, the Port real estate committee seems to use a different kind of math. When Jack London Square was losing money for the Port, they sold off the profitable parcels to Ellis Partners and kept the money-losers.

The needs of Oakland residents are considered—if at all—only after the deal is signed and only if the community protests loudly enough. All too often, the remediation efforts are minimal and delivered through a community benefits agreement. These agreements rarely change the basic structure of a development deal. The few gains tend to be weakly-enforced, unless the community maintains constant vigilance.

In most other Bay Area cities, developers pay impact fees and build “inclusionary” affordable housing as a matter of law—even on private land. But in Oakland, 60 acres of public land is changing hands for a mere $18 million on a project estimated to be worth over $500 million—with no guaranteed public participation in determining public benefits. The developer involved, Signature Properties, claims that there is no subsidy involved and that it is exempt from existing local hiring agreements and other modest requirements of city-subsidized development.


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Says Oakland City Council member Nancy Nadel, the problems with this project “…exemplify why inclusionary zoning and park impact fees are needed. Community needs have to be considered up front so that we don’t have to battle for community benefits on a project-to-project basis.” 


Oakland Port: Then and Now
Historian Charles Wollenberg says the Port’s current independence is a result of its historical role as  “a terminus for the national railroad system. That greatly increased the importance of Oakland as a city and made the waterfront a much more important location. The railroad arranged with investors and city politicians to gain control of the Port so that the waterfront was controlled by a corporation, which was in turn controlled by the railroad.”

The city obliged by setting up a “separate city government or sub-government within the broader city governmental structure to operate the port.”

According to Wollenberg, Oakland had to fight hard in the early part of the twentieth century to gain back some control of its port from the powerful railroad. To appease the various interests and still isolate it from politics, the Port was made a semi-autonomous entity. But to most people, the rationale behind the Port’s special status makes no more sense today than it did then.

“The argument in favor of [semi-autonomy was to] take it out of politics… but the other side of the wheeling and dealing in politics is public control. We are supposed to be a democratic nation… supposed to have public participation.”

Another major problem with the Port’s auto-nomous status is that it often ends up competing with the established, locally-owed businesses. Some believe that every time the Port succeeds, the rest of the city loses, says Wollenberg.  Instead of the city supporting the landmark Holmes bookstore, that used to be on 14th street, there’s a waterfront Barnes and Noble on Jack London Square. 

Public Property vs. Private Profit
Dawn Phillips, organizer for Just Cause Oakland, points out that the Port isn’t looking out for the interests of Oakland residents. “The Port represents one of the less accessible and less accountable institutions, even by the generally low standards of Oakland government.” All too often, Port developments lead to “a net loss of jobs, a net loss of small, local, people of color–owned businesses in Oakland.”

Urban Strategies’ Smith point out that, “There [are] several hundred million dollars in reserve accounts over at the Port. And if we’re… looking at a revenue shortfall in the city of around $30 million… we need to think about getting the Port to give the money to the city to solve that problem.”

The Port is well aware of these criticisms, says spokeswoman Sandifur, quickly pointing out that the Port takes pride in its Community Relations Department, which channels money into pay back projects for the city, such as college scholarships for low-income students, and spaces like the Middle Harbor Shoreline Park for public recreation.

Wollenberg and other Oakland Port scholars, however, contend that the Port could have been just as successful and profitable even without its special autonomous status. And despite the community projects it showcases, activists want to know why the Port cannot be more responsive to the health and economic concerns voiced by the residents of Oakland.

Council member Nadel says that even commissioners with progressive credentials seem to undergo a transformation once they take their seats. Their community interests are overwhelmed by a requirement that they defend the Port’s bottom line.

Ports around the country have varied relationships to their cities. Some, like Oakland, are semi-autonomous; others pay city taxes. Given Oakland’s current budget problems, there is no reason why old laws cannot be changed, say Oakland community activists. The Port, after all, is located on public land, and the pollution it creates is a public hazard. The community would like to see the Port be more of a city asset and less of a private business.

“[The Port] isn’t a business, it’s a public agency,” says Smith of Urban Strategies. “When someone in city [government] says, ‘Boy we’d really like to access some of that money to fix the fiscal crisis but there’s nothing we can do,’ they are wrong. There is something they can do. They can change the charter. And they can enter into agreements with the Port.”

Just Cause’s Phillips says, “The City Council and the Mayor lack the political will to take the Port on.   It will take community, labor, and neighborhood residents organizing vocal and strong challenges: demonstrations, media work, and legal suits. This isn’t an institution that is going to go quietly.”

Ben Jesse Clarke is a freelance writer and the editor of Race, Poverty and the Environment.
Hana Baba reports for KALW Public Radio’s News and Up Front programs in San Francisco.
She covers social justice issues, ethnic communities, and arts.

Photos: Oakland City Council Member Nancy Nadel addresses a demonstration in West Oakland.  (c) 2005 Scott Braley.

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Short-changed on the benefits but plagued by the Port’s negative impacts—it’s the harsh reality of life in West Oakland...

Port Privatization in Central America

Photo Essay: Puerto Cortez, Honduras And Acajutla, El Salvador

12-1 Page 39 image 1 By David Bacon

Despite the poverty and difficult conditions that plague them, dock workers and port truckers in the Centra12-1 Page 40 image 1l American ports of Puerto Cortez and Acajutla have tried to form unions. Some have had success, while others have lost their jobs and been blacklisted. All worry that the Central American Free Trade Agreement will lead to privatization and attacks on their unions and income. This photo-documentary shows their conditions as they work or wait for work, and for their families at home.

Few of the privatization assaults in Central America have been as sustained and sharp as those against the longshore workers of El Salvador.

12-1 Page 41 Image 2In El Salvador’s main port of Acajutla, soldiers occupied the wharves. Using direct military force, new private operators took over the terminals. The Salvadoran dock union was smashed. Efforts to reorganize it since have not been broken and the workers involved have been fired and blacklisted.

The government told workers they could reapply for their old jobs, but with the new private operators. “They told people they’d be liquidated, but they’d get jobs with the private operators,”  says Carlos David Marroquin, Secretary-Treasurer of the old longshore union, and a former warehouse worker. “But they didn’t say how much they’d be paid.” The new wage was $12 per day—cutting the daily income of longshoremen by more than 90 percent.

In El Salvador port drivers have a long history of fighting the Danish corporation t12-1 Page 40 Image 3hat has resisted the organizing efforts of truckers around the world more than any other—the Maersk Corporation. Three years ago, a hundred drivers for Bridge International Transport were fired when they tried to win a union contract, and their organization was destroyed. Bridge is owned by Maersk, and hires the drivers who deliver the containers to the company’s container ships as they sit at the dock.

Hundreds of drivers do the same labor in U.S. ports as the fired Salvadorans did in Central America, ferrying huge shipping containers to and from Maersk vessels. These workers, however, aren’t employed directly by Maersk or its subsidiaries. Instead, drivers own their own trucks, at least in theory. In actual fact, they’re heavily indebted to banks and finance companies, which loan them money to purchase their rigs. Drivers have to pay all the costs of operating them—diesel fuel, insurance, parking charges—everything. By t12-1 Page 41 Image 3he time bills are paid, the average take-home earning for a harbor trucker is $8-9 an hour, making them the lowest-paid big-rig drivers in the United States. They make up a huge group of 50-55,000 people nationally. Some 12,000 work in the port of Los Angeles/Long Beach alone, with about 3,100 in Oakland, 1,800 in Portland, and 2,800 in Tacoma/Seattle, according to Bob Lanshay, Teamsters port organizer.

“We’ve recognized with these multinational corporations that we cannot deal with them effectively even nationally,” explains Chuck Mack, president of Teamsters Joint Council 7 in northern California and director of the union’s port division. “We have to develop a program that is international. We’r12-1 Page 40 image 2e not on the verge of organizing drivers in El Salvador, Central America, or other parts of the world. But we’re attempting to work with workers in those countries, to share information, provide help, and get their ideas and perspectives. How do we deal with these multibillion-dollar, multinational corporations? How do we end the exploitation of these drivers? It’s a worldwide problem.” 

David Bacon is a writer and photographer specializing in labor and globalization issues. He is the author of The Children of NAFTA (University of California Press, 2004). Photos and text © 2005 David Bacon. For reprint requests please contact

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DWI: Driving While Immigrant

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In 2005, over 70 bills were introduced in 26 different states dealing with how undocumented immigrants obtain driver’s licenses. The majority of the proposed state legislation curbed immigrants’ access to licenses.  The laws are more an attempt to restrict immigrants’ ability to travel than to ensure road safety.  Failure to carry a valid license carries sanctions like those imposed in South Africa under apartheid pass laws—jail and deportation back to the ‘homeland.’

Under some state bills, like New York’s proposed legislation, Departments of Motor Vehicles would have to become well-versed in United States foreign policy—and know if an applicant’s immigration papers are in order and if their home country is on a U.S. list of “terrorist” countries—to issue a driver’s license.

However, the REAL ID Act (a new law signed in May 2005) has made States’ individual  determinations of eligibility nearly irrelevant. REAL ID converts state driver’s licenses into a de facto national ID card, circumscribing the constitutional right to freedom of movement and travel for those without it.

Driving a car—essential to get to work or a hospital, go shopping, or pick-up children at school—will soon be a crime for those who cannot prove their citizenship or immigration status. Already, immigrants without a driver’s license risk vehicle impoundment, fines, and jail sentences.

The REAL ID law will turn states into immigration law enforcers, gatekeepers at the new identity border. Without a REAL ID driver’s license or identity card, taking a flight on an airplane, entering a federal building, getting car insurance, even hopping onto a train or Greyhound bus will become virtually impossible.

States will have to redesign their licenses, investigating and determining the citizenship or immigration status of all applicants. All residents, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status, will soon have to present a passport, birth certificates, social security cards, or similar documents proving their residence, to renew or obtain a driver’s license complying with the REAL ID’s national security measures.

States have three years to comply with the new REAL ID federal standards for driver’s licenses and other state ID cards. Some are already moving to comply. Arkansas approved a new driver’s license law implementing many REAL ID provisions starting in 2006.

States like California, where one out of every four residents is an immigrant, will be denying a sizeable portion of their residents an indispensable service, making them more vulnerable to deportation and abuse.

In California, a driver’s license law that would have given immigrants licenses—marked immigrant—was passed by the state assembly but vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.  State Senator Gilbert said the legislation was amended “to give the Governor all the time necessary to wait for federal regulations to be published, released and promulgated, before the Department of Motor Vehicles issues driver’s licenses to all applicants.” But Schwarzenegger still vetoed it, citing security concerns.

Full implementation of REAL ID means that the estimated 9 to 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. will be subject to new types of immigration checkpoints—making them more and more readily detectible for detention and possible deportation if they cannot produce a “secure” driver’s license proving “legal” presence in the U.S. 

Arnoldo Garcí­a works for the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights in Oakland, California.

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Transportation for Health

By Lili Farhang and Rajiv Bhatia

12-1 page 44 Our transportation system has direct and unequivocal effects on morbidity and mortality. Motor vehicle emissions are the largest and fastest growing source of air pollution and greenhouse gases. Exposure to air pollution causes respiratory illness and cardiovascular disease, and motor vehicles are also the most important source of environmental noise, interfering with sleep, work performance, and childhood brain development. Pedestrian injuries result from street designs that favor cars rather than people. Urban sprawl has made us less physically active, and populations in low-density communities experience higher rates of obesity than populations in higher-density areas.

More and more, the public health community is acknowledging that living and working conditions determine whether we have the opportunity to live healthy lives. Those living close to highways or busy roadways cannot control the air pollution entering their windows. Children are less physically active wherever parks are unsafe or there are no sidewalks. In areas without full-service grocers and produce markets, families have to make do with low-quality, high-priced food.  

Decades of research has shown that social class, race/ethnicity, geography, housing, and employment are the most significant predictors of health status. There is also mounting evidence that our “built environment”—land use patterns, neighborhood design, transportation systems—creates or obstructs opportunities for healthy living. So public health practitioners must now go beyond merely proscribing behaviors and treating symptoms, and start challenging the root causes of poor health.

In June 2005, single-room occupancy hotel residents of the Tenderloin district in San Francisco participated in a focus group on public transit access and their physical and mental health. Citing factors such as stress, overcrowding, violence, and cost of living, the participants describe situations in which they were unable to access basic needs—food, healthcare, family, and friends. Many in the group are positive about San Francisco’s public transit infrastructure, but emphasize that its benefits are distributed in a way that effectively reinforces neighborhood segregation. Regarding the most recent round of fare hikes, one participant says,  the transit system’s “strategy is to raise fares to keep poor people in a certain area. Everything in the neighborhood is contained—housing, food, and liquor stores. It’s like an ant farm. It’s not a good feeling… not to be able to leave.” 

Participants credit a history of community action as the primary reason for the city’s decent public transit system. “Unless low-income people are down at City Hall raising a ruckus, their neighborhoods get bypassed for improvement, their interests marginalized during budget decisions. When it comes to transit policy, it’s almost like they’re invisible to the city,” said Casey Mills, an organizer with the Coalition for Transit Justice, a group formed this year to fight the recent San Francisco Municipal Railway fare increases. 

These experiences highlight the urgency with which broad coalitions, including the public health community, must come together to solve our transportation crises. Today, chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and asthma are taking an ever-increasing toll on the health of this country, and the situation warrants the involvement of the public health community. Traditional public health dogma blames poor health on bad personal choices, such as overeating, sedentary lifestyles, and risky behaviors, but it takes healthy environments to create or break opportunities for healthy choices.

Transportation clearly affects health by determining access to daily necessities, as highlighted by the experiences of San Francisco’s Tenderloin residents. With low car-ownership rates, access is a greater challenge for low-income communities that depend on public transportation and walking. In a study of 15 low-income Bay Area neighborhoods, 66 percent of residents had no transit access to hospitals and 48 percent could not walk to a supermarket.  

Lack of transit access can have severe consequences. For instance, hospitalizations for many chronic diseases can be prevented with effective, regular, and timely care. Transit barriers—mainly cost and inadequate service—make healthcare even more unavailable to those who need it most. A Metropolitan Transportation Commission study found that Bay Area residents may not utilize medical services when they are difficult to get to. The result? Individuals may go without medications, develop more serious illnesses, and experience lengthier recovery times. 

For transit-dependent populations, quality of transportation also impacts health. Lengthy transit routes with multiple transfers and long wait times translate to less time for family or leisure activities and make daily commutes stressful. Stress has a direct relationship to physical and mental health outcomes, such as depression, tiredness, parent-child bonding, and immune response. For the elderly and disabled especially, limited access to public transit creates barriers to participation in community and civic life, leading to depression and alienation. 

The Tenderloin residents also viewed public transit as a means to get out of a community where they felt “penned in” by city policies that concentrated housing, poverty, and drug use in a controlled environment. But many factors prohibited them from “escaping.” Among them, the cost of ridership,  the humiliation of getting kicked off the bus for being unable to pay, overcrowded buses, fear of violence, and the unreliability of schedules. Participants pointed out that they often would rather walk long distances than deal with the bus. One solution proposed by the focus group was the possible extension of the disability discount to city residents with an economic disability. 

These findings provide more than enough impetus for the public health community to push towards more effective and more equitable transportation policies. Innovative efforts, like those found at the Program on Health, Equity, and Sustainability at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, bring health perspectives and evidence into the work of transportation agencies and advocates, and have begun to build a shared understanding of the inextricable link among health, equity, and transportation and land use decisions.  Public health practitioners ought to ensure that decision-makers consider the health benefits of transportation planning and policy-making, including the economic costs of adverse human health outcomes. They also should advocate for transportation funding priorities and policy-making that accurately reflect and address the needs of people who depend on transit the most. 

Lili Farhang and Rajiv Bhatia work with the Program on Health, Equity, and Sustainability at the San Francisco Department of Public Health.  The Program supports San Franciscans working together to advance urban health and social and environmental justice through research, education, advocacy, and collaborative problem-solving with community, government, and private stakeholders.

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Fact Sheet: Deadly Air Pollutants

Created in the atmosphere when oxides of nitrogen combine with reactive organic gases in the presence of sunlight. These reactive organic gases are primarily generated by auto emissions, but industrial emissions as well. Once in the lungs, ozone generates a free radical, an oxygen atom, that irritates lung tissue—causing or exacerbating asthma, emphysema, respiratory disease and, over time, reduced lung capacity. Animal studies also indicate that ozone either causes or exacerbates cancers.

Carbon Monoxide
Everyone knows carbon monoxide as a colorless, odorless gas that comes out of the tailpipes of cars which, by blocking the delivery of oxygen to the blood, can kill you. But carbon monoxide in smaller doses causes dizziness, impairs central nervous system functioning, deprives the heart muscles of oxygen—leading to heart attacks, and is also a reproductive toxin.

Nitrogen Oxides
Toxic gases that give smog its yellow-brown coloring. They are produced as a result of burning fuel under high temperatures or pressure, from stationary sources, such as auto refineries and chemical plants, and mobile sources, mainly motor vehicles. Nitrogen oxide decreases lung function and can reduce resistance to infection, influenza, pneumonia, and other illnesses. Once in the atmosphere, it reacts to form ozone and particulate matter. It has also been shown, in animal studies, to increase the metastasis of pre-existing cancers, and accelerate the growth of cancer colonies in the lungs.

Particulate Matter
Consists of solid and liquid particulate less than ten microns in diameter that are suspended in the air and invisible to the eye. Nitrates, sulfates, and dust particles are major components of particulate matter and are created by fuel combustion, oil refineries, power plants, wear on break linings, and dust from paved roads—in short, all of the many components of the auto/oil/highway lobby. Some of these tiny particles are themselves highly carcinogenic. Other particles, which derive from incomplete combustion from vehicles and industrial sources, are not in themselves toxic, but as they circulate in the air, certain poisons, such as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins, and furans, adhere to them. The particles facilitate the entry of the chemicals into the body where they are deposited or lodged in lung tissue—causing or facilitating the development of cancer.

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