Skip to main content

Off-Road Vehicle Driving May Be Hazardous to Your Health

Advocates for off-road vehicles (ORVs) — dirt bikes, three-wheelers, and all-terrain vehicles — like to say that their recreation is all about the three F's: "family, freedom, and fun."

Now they've decided to add "lung disease" to the list.

In California, a 48-square-mile area of Bureau of Land Management Lands known as "Clear Creek" apparently has rather dirty air when the soil gets kicked up by ORVs. The area is loaded with naturally occurring asbestos, a mineral that has tiny fibers that can lodge in lungs and cause cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency recently finished a multi-year study in which it concluded driving in the area five times over 30 years could lead to lung cancer, as the L.A. Times reported.

Apparently, part of the "fun" of driving ORVs is the "freedom" to expose your "family" to life-threatening illness. The motto of Don Amador, spokesman for the Blue Ribbon Coalition, seems to be "safety second, or maybe third," since he promised to fight BLM's decision to temporarily close the asbestos-infested area while the agency figured out how to protect public health.

ORVs have caused damage to watersheds and wildlife habitat, meadows and deserts. And the Blue Ribbon Coalition has doggedly fought many a closure to protect public lands and quiet users. Now, even when it may mean risking their kids' health, these folks can't stop themselves from fighting even a temporary closure.

Tags:  Public Lands