If a deadly strain of an exotic disease were ravaging Los Angeles, the state and federal governments would waste no time declaring a public health emergency. The Department of Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control would mobilize armies of researchers. The governor and the president would authorize the release of as much money as necessary to stop the spread of the epidemic and protect public health.
Last week, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), a regional planning body, made a plea for help dealing with a public health emergency that kills 5,400 Californians each year: air pollution. SCAG passed a resolution calling on Gov. Schwarzenegger and President Bush to declare a state of emergency in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura and Imperial counties, authorizing extraordinary measures to fight smog.
"When we have a hurricane or earthquake, they declare a state of emergency," said Hasan Ikhrata, director of planning and policy for the regional body. "These numbers are out of this world â€¦ so this is significant enough that they should do the same thing." (LAT)