Academic journal article Contemporary Economic Policy

Warehouses, Trucks, and [PM.Sub.2.5]: Human Health and Logistics Industry Growth in the Eastern Inland Empire

Academic journal article Contemporary Economic Policy

Warehouses, Trucks, and [PM.Sub.2.5]: Human Health and Logistics Industry Growth in the Eastern Inland Empire

Article excerpt


The logistics industry organizes, stores, and then transports consumer and other goods throughout the United States. It is composed primarily of warehousing and distribution facilities that now typically exceed 500,000 square feet, supported by fleets of trucks that move goods between facilities and other transportation modes. Most of the physical infrastructure of the logistics industry is made up of warehouses and other buildings. Proximity to seaports, air, rail, and road networks are key foundations of the logistics industry and ready access to all forms of transport is increasingly essential. It is also a space-intensive industry, making cost of land an important additional location factor.

The valley regions of San Bernardino and Riverside counties in Southern California east of Los Angeles comprise what is known as the Inland Empire. Lying along some of the most extensive road and rail networks in the United States, from an industry perspective, the Inland Empire is perhaps an ideal hub for logistics. The region also hosts three air cargo terminals and is proximate to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which handle approximately 13 million containers per year or one-quarter of all imports to the United States. Half of those containers travel via the Inland Empire, which means 34,000 trucks and 100 trains pass through the region each day from the ports (Eventov, 2003, 2004c). Volume grew by 11.6% in 2004 and is projected to almost double by 2020 (LAEDC, 2003).

This paper analyzes the health effects from fine particles emitted into the atmosphere by heavy-duty diesel trucks that are an important part of the logistics industry expansion in the eastern Inland Empire. Modern warehouses are typically serviced by 300-1,000 heavy truck trips per day. The sector therefore has the potential to dramatically increase truck traffic, particularly on freeways, and have major effects on air quality because of emissions associated with diesel fuel combustion. The paper is organized as follows. The next section discusses the environmental effects of diesel emissions from heavy trucks as well as the environmental backdrop against which the truck traffic expansion is occurring. Section III presents estimates of the increased truck traffic and fine particle pollution from logistics industry growth. Section IV incorporates key results from the epidemiological literature on mortality and morbidity consequences of increased particulate exposures, as well as the relevant environmental valuation literature. Section V presents our estimated economic costs, and Section VI concludes.


Logistics industry growth in the Inland Empire and particularly east of 1-15, which is the focus of this paper and highlighted in Figure 1, is a relatively new phenomenon. Prior to the 1990s the Inland Empire was home to only nine logistics centers and all would be considered small by contemporary standards (McLaughlin, 2003). In 2004 there were 43 large (over 500,000 square feet) warehouses and distribution centers and 18 more were planned. During the period 2000-2003, at least 26 were built (Eventov, 2004d) and approximately 15 more completed construction or were announced by 2004. Allowing for reasonable growth during 2005 and an incomplete inventory, we can say with confidence that during the period 2000-2005 forty-five major warehouse and distribution centers were built in the eastern Inland Empire. Most are 24-h cross-docking facilities used to organize import shipments for distribution nationally (Eventov, 2004b; Herrera, 2005a). (1) In 2004 one-sixth of the commercial development in the nation, or over 10 million square feet, was taking place within the Inland Empire. In early 2005 the industrial vacancy rate was only 2.2%, largely due to demand from the logistics industry. As Tapie Rohm, director of the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship at the California State University, San Bernardino, put it, "Logistics is totally reshaping the Inland Empire" (Eventov, 2004a). …

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