Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

December 20, 2005


Host: Michael Grant

Air Quality


  • The winter brown cloud hanging over the Valley is especially bad this season, prompting the Arizona Department of Air Quality to issue several high-pollution advisories. ADEQ Director Steve Owens joins us to talk about air quality.
Guests:
  • Steve Owens - Director, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality


View Transcript
Michael Grant:
Tonight on "Horizon," an air stagnation advisory contributing to our pollution problem. We'll have an air quality update. The fate the last vestige of Chinatown in Phoenix rests in the hands of developers. Plus plans for the future of the state lottery. A conversation with the new director of the Arizona lottery. And meet world renowned pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil. Those stories next on "Horizon." Good evening. I'm Michael Grant. Welcome to "Horizon." valley residents appeared visitors are dealing with some of the poorest air quality in years in recent weeks. State department of environmental quality has issued several high pollution advisories. The particulate levels are lower than unhealthy levels of last week, but stagnant air over the valley is not helping the air quality. Merry Lucero has a look at some of the contributing factors to our current air pollution problem.


Merry Lucero:
As the valley enjoys the cooler weather, an unwelcome winter visitor makes its annual appearance. The brown cloud. Air pollution can aggravate respiratory problems, especially in seniors, people with asthma and other sensitive individuals. The particulates in part come from several sources. One is vehicle exhaust. Dust kicked up from construction is another contributor. Pollen and agriculture also add to the brown cloud, and leaf blowers and outdoor landscaping work can be a factor. To improve the air quality and visibility in the valley of the sun, the Arizona department of environmental quality has asked people to participate in pollution control measures. Carpooling or using public transportation helps reduce vehicle emissions. Other recommendations reduce outdoor exercise and activities while the brown cloud continues to be a problem.


Michael Grant:
Joining me to talk more about the air quality or lack there of is Steve Owens, director of the Arizona department of environmental quality. You know, temperature inversions in Phoenix in December are not exactly a rare commodity. We normally have breaks. This one seems like it's been running continuously for the past three weeks.


Steve Owens:
That's right, Michael. We usually have air inversions during the wintertime, but what's really different this season is it's been one of the driest in a long, long time and we have had stagnant air. We haven't had any wind. We have had gunk building up in the air since the first of December. We have had 11 high pollution advisories. We issued one this afternoon for tomorrow, so for Wednesday there's a high pollution advisory for particulate matter. We have all this pollution building up. In past years we either had a little rain that would wash it out or wind blowing it out. We haven't had either so far. It's like the brown cloud on steroids. We're seeing it build up and build up. Until we get relief weather-wise it will be with us for a while.

Michael Grant:
The sequence goes like this. National weather service cuts loose a stagnant air advisory and you guys immediately follow with a high pollution advisory.


Steve Owens:
Not quite like that. We have forecasters and meteorologists at the state department of environment at quality. They look at the national weather service data and data from our monitors around the valley and in other parts of the state. When they see the weather patterns they match it up against what we're seeing. Our technical people will make a decision about whether to call a high pollution advisory for the following day or something like a health watch, a notch below a high pollution advisory.


Michael Grant:
Steve, do the driving patterns associated with the holidays for a variety of reasons including but not limited to just shopping but a lot more maybe casual driving and that kind of thing, does that also contribute to make December a particularly bad time?


Steve Owens:
You know, a lot of things contribute to the particulate pollution we're experiencing now. One of the major things is all the construction as we saw in the preview. There's a lot of construction, both residential and commercial, that generates dust both at the construction site and when the trucks drive on to the road they bring dirt and mud and that's stirred up by vehicles driving over that. It's combined with the fact that we have more and more people in the valley every year driving farther and farther distances because our development is taking place farther out in the desert. While we may see breaks during the weekends because people are maybe staying home watching TV, people are out shopping now, so this past weekend when we thought we might have seen more of a dip than we did, it was probably due to the fact that people were out jamming the malls and helping support the economy. It does create pollution.


Michael Grant:
No-burn days came along in the late 1990's. I know there was a lot of irritation and resistance. Perhaps understandably so. You pay five grand for a fireplace, you like to use it. Over the years, though, is voluntary compliance on no-burn days pretty good or not?


Steve Owens:
I think it's pretty good. The enforcement piece of that or the oversight piece lies within the jurisdiction of Maricopa county and their air quality department. My understanding is it's worked well. People take this seriously. When there's a high pollution advisory issued, I know my neighbors will talk about it, go out of their way not to use their fireplace. Occasionally you'll go out -- [speaking simultaneously] which neighbor it is, but by and large I think it has helped. That really is one of the most important things, Michael. Everything helps. If you're not using your fireplace, leaf blower, lawn mower, not driving as much, not off-roading, anything we can do to keep down dust levels when we have a high pollution advisory out there, it will make it easier for all of us to breathe, but especially for those with problems that can easily be exacerbated by high pollution levels.


Michael Grant:
Talking about the effects, what sort of -- in particular if you fall into some of the high risk categories, avoiding strenuous activity outdoors, variety of things?


Steve Owens:
Pretty straightforward stuff. On the other hand, it's a real challenge for folks. It's nice weather, you want to be outside, go hiking, might want to climb camelback mountain, but if you're a child or senior citizen with asthma or anyone with a breathing challenge you really want to take it easy when we have a high pollution advisory.


Michael Grant:
Any relief in sight?


Steve Owens:
We have to keep our fingers crossed and hope for good weather. A little wind, maybe some rain. This really shows you what can happen in a place like the valley when we run out of luck on the weather. And as a long-term strategy we can't rely on good luck and good weather. We have to come up with some creative solutions to deal with it in the future.


Michael Grant:
Steve Owens, happy holidays to you.


Steve Owens:
Thanks.


Michael Grant:
The sun mercantile building downtown Phoenix, the side of the latest battle between preservationists and developers at the Phoenix city council meeting last Thursday. Council voted unanimously to allow developers to build on the site with stipulations. The Asian American community says it's going to lose a piece of history. Producer Larry Lemons looks at the controversy.


Dr. Pearl M. Teng:
My father-in-law came to Arizona in 1910. In those days, Arizona was not a state; I suppose you would call it territory of Arizona. He came over as businessman because during those years because of the Chinese exclusion act, Chinese were excluded but businessmen were allowed to come.


Larry Lemmons:
Dr. Pearl Teng tells the story of her father who built the mercantile building in 1929. He and his wife Lucy were well known in their day.


Dr. Pearl M. Teng:
Because Lucy knew Spanish language they were able to build their business into quite a thriving business.

Larry Lemmons:
Today the sun mercantile building shows little of the successful state-of-the-art facility it once was.


Dr. Pearl M. Teng:
The city was quite proud of it because it had sprinkler systems and it was connected to the city alarm system. Over the years, they thrived and grew. He was the distributor for Dell Monte foods, Campbell's soup, foods from general mills an even Lydia Pinkham's.


Larry Lemmons:
The building does retain some of its identity as the last vestige of the Chinese community in downtown Phoenix.



Barry Wong:
Historically Chinese immigrants came here as the cheap laborers, dirty laborer, the railroads, laid the tracks, had the most dangerous jobs, a lot of them were killed putting railroads -- lines through mountain sides and other type of dangerous conditions. So I think that's important to preserve that history and remind people that the Chinese immigrants were very important in building that transcontinental railroad, not just a first line but multiple lines coming across the country and through Arizona as well. Then of course you have the Chinese subsequent to that stayed in Arizona after the railroads were built. They were very active entrepreneurs at the time.


Larry Lemmons:
Former state representative Barry Wong of the Arizona Asian American museum foundation attended the city council meeting in early December, which would determine the fate of the building. Also in attendance were members of the southwest development partners team who want to convert the existing building into an 11-story condominium to be developed with a hotel, part of the city of Phoenix's effort to revitalize downtown.


Jerry Colangelo:
This is a unique, unique development. In fact it will prove to be an architectural icon to the city. The fact that it's a hotel and condo combination creates a unique and desirable living environment.


Larry Lemmons:
The total cost of the project would come to $200 million. At the council meeting the development team offers a presentation to describe their plans.


Jerry Colangelo:
Our vision is really the transition of the glass so you can see the articulation of the glass. We can look at the U.S. Airways Center; we can look at third street bank of America building, the warehouse district, soon to be - the chase field. Their scale, developing scale of the community. We need to look at what is the future of it.


Larry Lemmons:
The city of Phoenix currently owns the building. The Asian American supporters of keeping the building intact feel it's important to preserve this ethnic symbol.

Barry Wong:
This is part of the mix. The city is supporting the carver museum, formerly the segregated school site of African American community. Then you have the Indian school property, which there's the gymnasium now being preserved by the Native Americans to tell their story. Unfortunately, the Hispanic community lost out on the Madison Square Garden boxing gym recently. This is all within the span of a year all this happening. So I was hoping that the city would say, hey, this fits within our cultural mix, which is a benefit not only to the city and the region but also would add economic value to this entire project.


Larry Lemmons:
At the council meeting, Jerry Colangelo spoke of his long time support of the sun mercantile building.


Jerry Colangelo:
It should also be noted that what you'll hear during this conversation today is that we're not talking about just maintaining history; we're talking about creating history. The integrity of this building has always been something that we have been very conscious of. Also for the record, the roof of the sun mercantile building, which happens to be a big part of this issue, is not the old building. We had to rebuild that roof. It's a new roof. It's not a historic roof. I think that's pretty important. You'll also hear later on that we always had every intention of recognizing and honoring the history of the Chinese community problem. And I personally have been very supportive of this community over the years.


Larry Lemmons:
The city council unanimously voted to allow the developers to proceed with their plans but with stipulations. Among them, the 11-story addition is permitted, but the east, west and south sides of the building must be preserved intact. Exhibit space must be set aside inside and outside the building, and the developer must donate, over two years, $75,000 to the Arizona Asian American museum foundation. Reportedly neither the developer nor the preservationists were entirely happy with the decision.


Dr. Pearl M. Teng:
The Chinese community became concerned that this is the last evidence of the remaining of the Phoenix Chinese community, and they felt that they would lose their identity, their heritage and history of the city of Phoenix.


Larry Lemmons:
The developers did not respond to our requests for comment. Any of the parties may appeal the decision in the Maricopa county superior court.


Michael Grant:
Arizona lottery has generated more than $1.8 billion in revenue since 1981. Proceeds from the sales of lottery tickets fund community projects in various areas of the last month governor Napolitano named Art Macias, Jr., the new director of the Arizona lottery. Macias recently sat down with Jose Cardenas, the chairman of the Horizon at the program.


Jose Cardenas:
Thanks for joining us. Tell us about your background.


Art Macias Jr.:
I was born in Chihuahua, Chihuahua --


Jose Cardenas:
Mexico.


Art Macias Jr.: Mexico, yes. Moved to Douglas when I was three years old, and I consider myself an Arizona native. Grew up in Douglas. That's what's great about the governor. She is really making the cabinet look like Arizona. Really hiring qualified individuals.



Jose Cardenas: Between Douglas and getting to the governor's office you went off to France where you got your undergraduate degree.


Art Macias Jr.:
I did, majored in economics, then went off on a rotary ambassador scholarship and did a master's in international management.


Jose Cardenas:
In France.


Art Macias Jr.:
In Paris.



Jose Cardenas:
You need to revise the press release, which described you as bicultural and bilingual. It should be tricultural and trilingual.

Art Macias Jr.:
That's right. After going through an accounting course in French, that should reflect that. That was quite a challenge.


Jose Cardenas:
You served in that position with the city of Douglas. Tell us about that.


Art Macias Jr.:
I served there for six years in the city of Douglas. It really was an introduction to the lottery to a certain extent in that we applied for a number of heritage grants and were able to build parks in the city of Douglas and the heritage fund is funded by the lottery, so we were in a sense a beneficiary of where I'm at now. I fully intend to continue to make sure the sales are there to keep projects like that afloat.


Jose Cardenas:
You served your first cabinet position in this administration as director of weights and measures.


Art Macias Jr.:
Yes.


Jose Cardenas:
Tell us about that position.


Art Macias Jr.:
Three years ago, the governor called and very appreciative of the opportunity to come up and lead what really is the leading consumer protection agency in the state of Arizona. Particularly the fuel supply interruption issue that we had in the summer of --


Jose Cardenas:
Thrust you and the agency into prominence it didn't have before.


Art Macias Jr.:
It was baptism by fire essentially. But because of the agency and because we stepped up to the plate and had good relationships with the petroleum industry we were able to supply the governor with good information to make decisions and reassure the public that in subsequent instance that there was plenty of gas available, not to panic. So we were able to have some successes there.



Jose Cardenas:
Your new position, you're replacing Katie Bushort, very successful lottery chief. She's off to the Phoenix chamber of commerce, I understand.


Art Macias Jr.:
She leaves quite a legacy to fill. They are probably big boots left to fill.


Jose Cardenas:
This has actually been one of the most successful years for the lottery, as I understand it.


Art Macias Jr.:
Absolutely. We hit close to $400 million, and there's a good team in place there. We're already looking to hit the half billion-dollar mark.


Jose Cardenas:
This is an agency, what, ten times the budget or maybe 20 times the budget you had at weights and measures?


Art Macias Jr.:
That's correct. From a $3 million to a $60 million budget and again the $400 million in sales. But really what we had at weights and measures that really helps in this capacity now is that we formed very good relationships with the retailers while we were at weights and measures. We regulated that industry, and now we get to continue that partnership because we really depend on the retailers for sales.


Jose Cardenas:
Tell us where all the monies generated by the lottery go. What kinds of programs does it fund?


Art Macias Jr.:
Lottery really funds the heritage fund, the general fund of which a significant percentage goes towards education. There's the local transportation assistance fund, which helps local communities with transportation programs. There's a county assistance fund, so counties benefit. It really is rather broad, and really virtually every community in Arizona benefits from the lottery.


Jose Cardenas:
Is that true in particular in the Hispanic community?


Art Macias Jr.:
Widespread. The projects that I talked about in Douglas, 96\% Hispanic in Douglas, and certainly that community benefited from those projects.



Jose Cardenas:
We wish you the best in your new position. We know you'll do a good job. Looking forward to talking to you again. Thank you for joining us.


Art Macias Jr.:
Thank you.


Michael Grant:
Dr. Andrew Weil has devoted 30 years to developing, practicing, teaching others about the principles of integrative medicine. Dr. Weil, who lives in southern Arizona, recently featured in "Time Magazine," producer Pam White profiles Dr. Weil.


Pam White:
After turning 60, Dr. Andrew Weil began thinking more about growing old. Contemporaries were also asking questions and wanted his opinion on healthy aging.



Dr. Andrew Weil:
Also as I began looking at the subject I was more and more bothered by the rise of anti-aging medicine and the appeal of anti-aging philosophies in this culture.



Pam White:
Now he's written a book, "healthy aging, a lifelong guide to your physical and spiritual well-being." He discusses many topics including diet, hormones, diagnostic tests, sleep, exercise, sex, emotions and plastic surgery. I talked with him at his home in veil, Arizona.


Dr. Andrew Weil:
My main philosophy is that aging is a natural and universal process and we need to embrace it and learn how to do it gracefully. I think the big question is whether age-related disease is separable from the aging process. I think the answer is definitely yes. The goal is not to stop aging or reverse it, it's to do everything we can to reduce the risks of and delay onset of age-related diseases. I have tasted it in Middle Eastern restaurants and always wanted to make it.


Pam White:
A graduate of Harvard medical school and director of the UA's integrative medicine program, he says even though family history plays a role in disease, so does life-style.


Dr. Andrew Weil:
We're dealt a hand of genetic cards, but we have the freedom to determine how we play them. I think in almost every case it's an interaction of genetics and environment. We're born with predispositions to certain diseases like heart disease and cancer, but the way we choose to live is whether those genes express themselves or not. There's room for enormous influence of life-style choices. There's no point being afraid of the inevitable. There are things you lose as you get older and I think there are things you gain.



Pam White:
In the book is a special anti-inflammatory diet to reduce the risk of major killers from developing like heart disease and cancer.


Dr. Andrew Weil:
It looks as if all of these big categories of age-related disease begin as inflammatory processes in different tissues. This kind of inflammation is imperceptible and probably going on for a long time. Then the question is what can you do to moderate inflammation? A big one is diet. So I have given a lot of detail in the book about what I call the anti-inflammatory diet.


Pam White:
Exercise is essential, but it's important to choose the right activity.


Dr. Andrew Weil:
I have seen an awful lot of men in their 40's, early 50's who injured themselves very seriously as a result of not giving up basketball, for example, or continuing to run even though they are feeling a lot of pain and they think it's good to run through the pain. I think the point is it's good to be physically active, but the form of physical activity may change, and you should be willing to change.


Pam White:
Since aging is irreversible to Dr. Weil anti-aging products are a waste of money, and plastic surgery a waste of time.


Dr. Andrew Weil:
If people want to do cosmetic surgery or procedures because it makes them feel better about themselves, improves the quality of their life, that's really not my business. The extent that it's done as a way of denying to yourself that aging is happening, then I worry about it because I think -- I don't think that's healthy. I think it's taking us in a direction away from reality.


Pam White:
In his backyard is a labyrinth, a place to meditate and relax. In his book rewrites about breathing techniques as a way to reduce stress and anxiety. To offset depression social connections are crucial and to keep a sharp mind he recommends learning a foreign language. But the real dilemma facing the elderly today in our country is how they are treated.


Dr. Andrew Weil:
We have become I think a completely youth-dominated and youth-obsessed culture and we devalue aging. You can see that in all sorts of ways. One is the people who do marketing in this culture market to a young demographic. The pay scale for older people is different from that of younger people. I think in many, many ways we devalue the old. Now, how that came about I'm not sure. I don't know. But this is where we are at the moment. The baby boomers are a very powerful segments of society, and I don't think they are going to settle for the roles of aging that have been held out for previous generations. I think this is a good time to try to stir things up and see if we can change it.


Pam White:
Dr. Weil admits one day in the future it will be possible through gene therapy to prolong human life, but what would the consequences be?


Dr. Andrew Weil:
But I don't think we have the practical means of doing that at the moment and I don't think that's going to come in the lifetime of anyone alive today. I think it's pointless to put your energy in that direction. If we ever did get control of that, I think it also raises just huge questions about how that would affect society. We have already got enough problems from too many people, and I just can't even imagine what would happen if we enable people to live much longer. There's also the whole psychological question of if you could live much longer, how much longer would you want to live?


Producer:
Hurricane Katrina took a swipe at the nation's economy. Despite that and other factors our nation's economic expansion is expected to continue. The Arizona economy is expected to add more jobs, more homes and more people in 2006. Analysts will analyze the economy Wednesday on "Horizon."

What's on?

Content Partner:

  About KAET Contact Support Legal Follow Us  
  About Eight
Mission/Impact
History
Site Map
Pressroom
Contact Us
Sign up for e-news
Pledge to Eight
Donate Monthly
Volunteer
Other ways to support
FCC Public Files
Privacy Policy
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
Google+
Pinterest
 

Need help accessing? Contact disabilityaccess@asu.edu

Eight is a member-supported service of Arizona State University    Copyright Arizona Board of Regents