Save. Me. 94590
By: Jimmy Sarmiento – Vallejo resident
Zip Code 94590 in South / Central Vallejo is facing tough challenges. Socio-economic pressures and the cumulative impact of air pollution is taking a major toll on its residents. Will the City leaders help lighten this burden? We’re hopeful that these facts will help them make the right decision.
94590 as described by ZipData Maps:
Zip Code 94590 is located in the state of California in the San Francisco - Oakland - San Jose metro area. Zip code 94590 is primarily located in Solano County. The official US Postal Service name for 94590 is VALLEJO, California. Portions of zip code 94590 are contained within or border the city limits of Vallejo, CA, . The area code for zip code 94590 is 707. The 94590 area can be classified socioeconically as a Lower Middle Class class zipcode in comparison to other zipcodes in California.
The current unemployment level in 94590 is 7.59% which is higher than the current county unemployment level of 4.9% and is higher than the current state unemployment at 4.7% and higher than the current national unemployment rate at 4.9%.
Following are some enlightening statistics from the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment (ACHNA) of the Solano County Health Service Area, conducted by Valley Vision on behalf of Kaiser Permanente, NorthBay Healthcare, Sutter Solano Medical Center, Solano County Public Health, and the Solano Coalition for Better Health :
“The median income for the county was higher than the state median income, at $67,177.
The ZIP code in the HSA* with the lowest median income was 94590 (South/Central Vallejo) at $47,819 per year compared to the highest median income in ZIP code 94512 (Elmira) at $142,885 per year, a range of nearly $95,000 dollars a year.”
*HSA = Health Service Area
“The percent of population living in poverty was lower in Solano County compared to the state benchmark. The Solano HSA* ZIP code with the highest percent of population in poverty was 94590 (South/Central Vallejo) at 25.0% compared to the lowest percent poverty in ZIP code 94534 (West Fairfield) at 5.4%.”
*HSA = Health Service Area
LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH
“Seven of the 18 ZIP codes also had lower life expectancy relative to the state. The community with the lowest life expectancy was seen in ZIP code 94590 (South/Central Vallejo), also a Focus Community, at 77.29 years of age.”
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) Emergency Dept Visits and Hospitalization
“Thirteen of the 18 ZIP codes had high rates of ED visits due to COPD above the state benchmark with the highest rate in 95625 (Elmira) at 989.82 ED visits per 10,000 population, more than four times the state and 17 times the Healthy People 2020 benchmark.
Similar to ED visits, ZIP code 95625 (Elmira) showed elevated rates for hospitalizations due to COPD at 326.84 hospitalizations per 10,000 population, over six times above the Healthy People 2020 benchmark.”
Note: Elmira is an agricultural community between Fairfield and Davis with a population of 188 in the 2010 census. 94590, on the other hand, has a population of 35.420, and its COPD emergency department visits is more than three times the state of California numbers.
“Seventy-two percent of ZIP codes for Solano County had ED visit rates due to asthma that fell above the state benchmark with twenty-eight percent of ZIP codes above both the county and state benchmarks. The highest rates of ED visits were found in ZIP codes 94533 (East Fairfield), 94589 (North Vallejo), 94590 (South/Central Vallejo) and 95625 (Elmira), with ZIP code 95625 having the highest rate of ED visits for asthma at 841.33 per 10,000 population, over five times the state benchmark and three times the county benchmark. Data by race and ethnicity showed that Whites had a rate of 271.33 ED visits per 10,000 population, compared to Hispanics at 181.40, Native Americans at 419.16, Asians/Pacific Islanders at 147.98, and Blacks at 624.97 per 10,000 population. Moreover, the rate of ED visits due to asthma in the Black population was over two times the county rate and four times the state rate.”
While Elmira may have the highest median income at $142,885 a year, it also has the highest emergency room visits and hospitalization due to COPD and Asthma. Possibly due to persistent exposure to field dust, pesticides, fertilizers, etc. in this rural/agricultural community. Pollution matters. With a population of only 188 people, Elmira does not represent a fair statistical comparison.
94590 - An Impacted Area per Community Air Risk Evaluation (CARE) Program
According to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), Zip Code 94590 is a “CARE” community, with higher pollution levels and negative impacts on public health. These negative health outcomes are consistently borne out by data from the Solano County community health assessment study which is updated every 3 years.
The BAAQMD Community Air Risk Evaluation (CARE) Program aims “to unite government, communities, and businesses to address areas of concentrated air pollution and related public health effects in the Bay Area.”
Vallejo 94590 was classified impacted or a vulnerable area as a result of extensive studies conducted by the BAAQMD over a period of time. It wasn’t designated as such because of politics or at the whim of bureaucrats. This designation is supported by peer reviewed scientific studies, using detailed emissions inventories and air dispersion modelling.
As a matter of fact, 94590 is ranked among the highest in the Pollution Vulnerability Index (PVI) in the SF Bay Area. See the BAAQMD study’s Figure 6 below. Further, 94590 is shown in Figure 7 as in the top 15% of vulnerable communities.
Source: “Identifying Areas with Cumulative Impacts from Air Pollution in the San Francisco Bay Area” – Version 2, March 2014 by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.
The map below shows Pollution Vulnerability Index (PVI) values ranging from 0 to 100, in increments of 10. The highest PVI values indicate the areas with the greatest health impacts from air pollution. To show health impacts where people live, Figure 6 maps PVI only in portions of zip code areas that are populated.
The first goal of the CARE program is to:
Identify areas where air pollution contributes most to health impacts and where populations are most vulnerable to air pollution. Sadly, 94590 falls squarely in that category, and at a very high vulnerability level. The other 2 CARE goals are:
Apply sound scientific methods and strategies to reduce health impacts in these areas.
Engage community groups and other agencies to develop additional actions to reduce local health impacts.”
Do additional pollutants from a CEMENT PLANT, open raw material piles, diesel 18-wheelers, heavy equipment, and ocean going vessels at a marine terminal within the 94590 area itself help reduce the health impacts to the area’s vulnerable population?
It may be worth noting that a major source of pollutants that envelop the 94590 area do not necessarily originate locally. Vallejo is predominantly downwind from the “refinery corridor” of West Contra Costa County. Please refer to a screenshot below from Windy.com. Weather observers have told us that this wind pattern is true around 70% of the time. Pollutants from West Contra Costa County are swept up by the wind straight into Vallejo. The “bad odor” incident of September 20, 2016 from a minor oil spill at the Rodeo Phillips 66 marine terminal that sent over 100 Vallejoans to the emergency room is proof of this wind pattern. Origins of 911 calls flowed from the waterfront to inland Vallejo, indicative of the pollutant’s flow with the wind.
How is the City of Vallejo going to address this dire situation?
The City of Vallejo has limited powers to control or curtail air pollution that originate from West Contra Costa refineries. However, it has full authority, as the lead agency, to deny the permit application of VMT/Orcem for a marine terminal and cement plant.
To do otherwise is immoral and unconscionable. The cumulative effect of local as well as “imported” pollution is nothing short of disastrous to many sensitive individuals. It is a crime against humanity to force this polluting project on a disadvantaged community whose health, in general, is already compromised by exposure to existing polluted air.
How can a City justify allowing a polluting industry to mitigate their impact through the purchase of “credits” elsewhere? Is money more important than the health of your constituents? Council majority, take heed. You have seen the facts from multiple independent sources. Your decision on this matter will affect generations of Vallejoans. It will condemn some of them to sickness and premature death. Is that the legacy you want to leave, the harbinger of ill health?
Since 94590 is already severely handicapped - highest poverty rate and lowest life expectancy in the county, severe pulmonary disease and asthma rates, and identified among the Bay Area’s population with the highest pollution vulnerability index - does your conscience allow you to simply jump and pile on these poor people? A humble reminder, your decision will also affect human beings, not just the bottom line of moneyed corporations that enthusiastically support your political ambitions.