Loma Linda University to examine health of residents near San Bernardino rail yard

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Researchers from Loma Linda University plan to examine the health of people living near the sprawling Burlington North Santa Fe railroad yard in San Bernardino. Residents and city leaders have long complained about the noise and air quality around the site.

The 170-acre Burlington yard is one of the region’s busiest hubs for diesel trucks and trains that ferry goods in and out of Southern California. Environmental regulators say it poses a significant risk to public health and the environment.

Loma Linda University’s door-to-door survey will try to determine if any link can be drawn between the yard and local cases of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Researchers will also test lung capacity among especially vulnerable residents like children and elderly people who live nearby.

Loma Linda University professor Susanne Montgomery says the study will focus on three concentric zones around the Burlington rail yard – which include a pair of elementary schools. “Because that’s where you assume and the signs suggest the risk is highest," says Montgomery. “So we are able to compare degrees of exposure to the rail yard and the pollution that is in this specific area.”

Burlington railroad officials say they continue to take steps to reduce diesel emissions at the San Bernardino yard. The Loma Linda University study is expected to be completed in about two years.