How are we doing?
San Diego County has the cleanest air on record. Despite a significant increase in population and vehicle miles traveled, air quality has continually improved for decades. While the air quality has greatly improved we strive for more healthy days. We continue to work with industrial sources to minimize emissions and recently increased collaboration with the State of California on reducing mobile source emissions. The one parameter that affects air quality which we have no control over is the weather. As temperatures rise and inversion layers trap pollution air quality deteriorates. We are committed to increasing the number of healthy days.
How is this measured?
The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determines the maximum amount of air pollution that can be present and still have healthy air quality. EPA utilizes research from medical and scientific professionals expert in the effects of air pollution on humans to determine healthy air quality levels. These levels are categorized as ambient air quality standards and agencies like ours work towards achieving these levels. There are standards for ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, oxides of sulfur, and lead. The EPA is required to review these standards every five years and make adjustments based on the most recent scientific studies. Historically, the standards have increased in stringency.
Why is this important?
Air pollution at unhealthy levels can cause health issues including cardiovascular and respiratory ailments; nose, throat, eye and chest irritation; and exacerbate asthma conditions. When air quality is poor the public cannot fully enjoy outdoor activities. Finally, there is an aesthetic value to having clear, blue skies so as to fully enjoy being outside.
Where are we going?
San Diego County has achieved and maintained all the standards except for ozone. We are close to achieving the ozone standard and expect to reach attainment in the next few years. We are committed to having the cleanest air possible for all San Diego County residents.
We All Can Do Our Part
We all can do our part to reduce air pollution and increase the number of healthy air days. Through our driving and use of consumer products, we are responsible for several tons of air pollution daily. By implementing one or more of the tips shown below, we can do our part in reducing air pollution and live well.