Air Heads

So let me get this straight: The folks at Brush Wellman's plant on South Tucson Boulevard can spew beryllium in the air, and monitor themselves, if they so choose (with some half-assed oversight from OSHA and the understaffed Pima County Department of Environmental Quality).

But I have to get my 1998 Saturn smog-tested before I can get it registered in Pima County? Even though it was tested just months ago in a neighboring state?

What in the hell is wrong with this picture?

I concede that my 1998 Saturn is putting off some pretty noxious stuff, thanks to the fossil fuels it gulps down as I putter around Tucson. But beryllium? Yeah, it is true that so far, nobody in Tucson outside of Brush Wellman's plant has gotten sick. But who knows what the future could hold? And beryllium kills people; it ruins lives.

Ask Rosa Maldonado, who is homebound because of the stuff. Or Molly Valenzueza, who has such severe coughing spells that she's broken her ribs before. Or Mike Matulin, who can't support his family.

I highly recommend that you read Keri Redfield's cover story this week. She talked to these three former Brush Wellman employees; their stories are sad, eye-opening tales.

Meanwhile, beryllium continues to enter Tucson's air every day.

But, hey, at least we know my Saturn's up to par.