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This week's mailbag features an explanation of bus electrification plans and an endorsement of the HPV vaccine.

TriMet will do its due diligence on 'green fleet'

TriMet has long been a leader in the Portland region's efforts to reduce air pollution. Once again, with climate change having a profound impact here and around the world, TriMet is taking the wheel and steering a bold path for the future. One in which Oregon's largest transit agency will get people to work, school and services aboard buses powered by green energy.

TriMet already reduces carbon emission by 21,000 metric tons a year, by eliminating an estimated 210,000 car trips a day and powering our MAX light rail system with electricity. By converting our diesel-powered buses to non-diesel technology by 2040, we'll reduce our carbon footprint while also growing the transit system to reduce emissions even further.

All-electric buses begin rolling into service in the coming year along TriMet's Line 62-Murray Blvd, the start of a four-year test of this prevailing technology. We'll evaluate their performance, cost and reliability. While this technology is still developing, bus manufacturers have committed to improvements. That's why TriMet has developed a plan to phase in the purchase of green-energy buses and decrease the purchase of diesel buses over the next 21 years. Along the way, we'll be watching other alternative-fuel technology as it emerges, including renewable natural gas and hydrogen.

TriMet's road map to an all-green fleet is ambitious but one we are dedicated to — for our riders, the region and the world. The Oregon Legislature wisely included provisions in the Keep Oregon Moving Act to encourage the use of lower-emissions fuels. State and local agencies have enacted plans to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to as much as 80 percent below 1990 levels.

The trip to a greener, healthier planet takes all of us. We're on board. We hope you will be too. Learn the facts at trimet.org/greenbuses.

Roberta Altstadt

Media Relations & Communications Manager, TriMet

HPV vaccine prevents oral and throat cancer

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration announced a major expansion of the HPV vaccine, approving immunizations for men and women ages 27 to 45. Previously, the FDA approved the vaccine only for people younger than 26, leaving generations of others without this protection.

As a dentist, I am thrilled to see a major advancement toward preventing oral and throat cancers for not only my patients, but for all Oregonians and citizens nationwide.

While most people likely know this vaccine protects people from contracting human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause genital warts and cancers, many may be less aware of the direct link between HPV and tumors affecting parts of the throat, known as oropharyngeal cancers.

HPV is the primary cause of most throat cancers in the United States. Alarmingly, the number of cases of oropharyngeal cancer linked to HPV infection in both men and women have been on the rise in recent years, according to the American Cancer Society. Thankfully, the HPV vaccine could prevent more than 90 percent of these cancers from developing, or 31,200 cases each year.

Dentists have historically played a key role in prevention related to other health concerns such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and eating disorders, among others, and so it's perhaps not surprising that a March 2018 study, available through the National Institutes of Health, suggests that dental providers "may become the next line of prevention for HPV-related cancers."

The American Dental Association is so committed to ensuring all patients have access to this potentially life-saving vaccine, they recently approved a policy urging dentists to encourage the administration of the HPV vaccine.

Dental providers already screen for oral cancer and are often the first to identify signs of oropharyngeal cancer in patients during routine dental exams. Because many Oregonians see their dentist more often than a primary care physician, it makes sense for dental providers to continue expanding their prevention efforts when it comes to oral cancer. Together we can work to make many oropharyngeal cancers a distant memory.

Dr. Barry Taylor, Southwest Portland


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