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Could the free market have cleaned California's air?

To the editor: I hope those who call for a smaller government with less regulation read about our improved air quality. These gains — along with cleaner water, purer food and less-polluted land — do not and will not come through private enterprise. ("Cancer risk from air pollution drops in Southern California," Oct. 2)

It is self-centered greed and denial to assert that our taxes and government do nothing to improve our lives.

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Ron Landesman, Los Angeles

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To the editor: It is encouraging to read about the air pollution improvements, but missing from the discussion is air pollution caused by planes at airports.

In a Times article from Dec. 15 last year, it states, "A zone of the Westside neighborhood of Mar Vista that sits downwind of Santa Monica Airport, for instance, has much higher levels of those pollutants than the Eastside's freeway-choked Boyle Heights." Jets sit idling on the ground often more than 10 minutes, and the ocean breezes escort these harmful emissions into our community east of the airport. The smaller piston-powered planes also spew toxic lead no longer allowed in fuel for cars.

This has been going on for more than 20 years. Environmental injustice does not just affect the very poor.

Joan Winters, Los Angeles

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