"In East Bay, Where Pollution Goes, Health Problems Follow"

"In some hardscrabble East Bay neighborhoods, people die of heart disease and cancer at three times the rates found just a few miles away in more well-to-do communities.

Children living near busy freeways in Oakland are hospitalized for asthma at 12 times the rate of young people in Lafayette's wooded housing tracts.

The East Bay's striking health inequities extend far beyond life expectancy and involve more than differences between the rich and the poor. Disparities exist up and down the East Bay's socioeconomic ladder, according to data compiled by the Alameda County Public Health Department for Bay Area News Group.

Middle-class communities in Dublin, Castro Valley and Fremont have higher heart disease death rates than wealthier neighborhoods in Walnut Creek and Berkeley, but lower rates than struggling areas of East Oakland and North Richmond.

These facts have led public-health leaders to advocate to equalize opportunities for healthful living, instead of focusing only on a never-ending battle to treat disease."

Sandy Kleffman and Suzanne Bohan report for the Contra Costa Times December 7, 2009.

Source: Contra Costa Times, 12/08/2009