LA Times Editorial: The air near LA’s freeways? How dangerous?
Check out today’s LA Times editorial on monitoring air pollution near freeways — read more about PSR-LA’s role in pushing the EPA to take action in last week’s post, “PSR-LA Air Pollution Lawsuit Featured in LA Times and CBS“.
The air near L.A.’s freeways: How dangerous?
Pollution along the region’s freeways has been ignored for too long. But what can be done to improve it?
By The Times editorial board
September 3, 2013
You know something is off base when the regional air district monitors and regulates emissions from fire pits on Southern California’s beaches, which affect a handful of homeowners, before it gets around to the 24/7 blasts of pollution along the area’s freeways. That’s not entirely the fault of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, though. Unhealthful emissions from cars and especially trucks along the freeways have fallen into a regulatory black hole until now.
The AQMD regulates only stationary polluters — industrial plants, residential fireplaces, fire pits and the like. But while the freeways are stationary, the cars and trucks that cause the pollution are mobile. So even though the freeways are emitting pollutants all the time — a never-ending source of ultra-fine particulate matter and other noxious emissions that repeated studies have linked to health problems among the people who live closest to them — they are not in fact regulated by the AQMD. In the four counties covered by the South Coast AQMD, that’s more than 1 million people. The air district has done occasional spot monitoring, but none of its 35 permanent stations is near a freeway because such stations are supposed to measure regional, not localized, pollution levels. That’s an outdated way of gauging the damage caused by air pollution, from before the health dangers of particulates were well understood.