In a year that has provided more than its share of twists and turns, our environment faces another challenge: extreme wildfires.
The widespread impacts of smoke from both local wildfires and those in the western United States have resulted in prolonged periods of poor air quality due to high levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). In September, Los Angeles also recorded its highest levels of ozone (also known as smog) in more than 25 years when a powerful heat wave and the impacts of wildfires washed over our region.
Here at South Coast AQMD, the district that manages air quality in the Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange county region, we know that our unique combination of topography, large population, and freight movement creates the perfect combination. to form air pollution. All of that, combined with recent wildfires and global warming, tells us that now is the time to accelerate the transition to cleaner engines for mobile sources such as trucks, trains and ships, which contribute the vast majority of the world’s polluting emissions. air in our region.
South Coast AQMD has been working hard to pass strict regulations on stationary sources like factories, refineries, and power plants. While our authority over mobile sources is limited, we invest millions in developing and implementing cleaner mobile source technologies. These efforts have yielded positive results. In fact, 2019 was the cleanest year on record for PM2.5, with levels falling by more than half since measurements began 20 years ago. Ozone levels have decreased significantly with a reduction of almost 80% since the 1950s.
Our agency has shown that with the right regulations, incentive funding, and partnerships with communities, businesses, and state, local, and federal governments, it is possible to improve air quality and achieve clean air. However, not all communities benefit equally. Disadvantaged communities suffer most of the impacts of poor air quality, including asthma and other respiratory diseases. These negative health impacts have worsened during the COVID-19 crisis, showing that it is more important now than ever to invest in our disadvantaged communities to improve air quality. South Coast AQMD collaborates with these communities as part of our AB 617 program. Working in conjunction with a diverse group of people who primarily live, work, or own businesses within each specific community, we help communities develop air control plans and emission reductions designed around your air quality concerns.
Although 2020 has presented its setbacks and challenges, South Coast AQMD continues to work tirelessly to clean the air and protect public health.