Air Quality in San Diego 2013 Annual Report

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1 Air Pollution Control Board Greg Cox District 1 Dianne Jacob District 2 Dave Roberts District 3 Ron Roberts District 4 Bill Horn District 5 Air Quality in San Diego 2013 Annual Report Protecting and improving our air quality in San Diego County is both legally required and necessary to prevent the serious adverse effects that air pollution can have on human health and the environment. This summary report presents San Diego County's air quality status and trends through Air quality management in San Diego County is a shared responsibility among several agencies pursuant to State and federal laws. The San Diego County Air Pollution Control District (District) is entrusted with regulating stationary (fixed) sources of air pollution, which can include anything from large power plants and factories to the corner gas station. However, about three-fourths of the air pollutants in our region come from motor vehicles and other mobile sources. Emission standards for mobile sources are established by the California Air Resources Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The District is governed by the Air Pollution Control Board, composed of the five members of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. The Air Pollution Control Board adopts measures to control air pollutants from stationary sources of air pollution. The Board also provides millions of dollars in grant funding to incentivize the reduction of air pollutants from diesel vehicles and equipment through retrofits and the replacement dirty, old equipment with clean, and low emitting devices. As a result of these efforts, San Diego County continues to make great progress in overcoming what historically has been the region s primary air pollution problem ozone. In fact, in 2013, San Diego County s air quality was the best ever since the mid s when the District first started measuring air pollutants. The Challenges Ahead There is still work to do. First, the region is currently a "marginal" nonattainment area for the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone. Second, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is scheduled to propose a tighter, more healthprotective ozone standard in late Accordingly, the District is striving to reduce

2 emissions even further and will continue to work with business and industry to costeffectively meet the existing national clean air standard and any new ones that come to pass. It is our quest to have cleaner, healthier air for all of San Diego now and into the future. So what are the air pollutants of most concern in San Diego County and how have we achieved the cleanest air ever recorded in almost six decades? First, air pollutants are emitted by many kinds of activities and the pollutants of greatest concern in San Diego County are fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), oxides of nitrogen (NO x ), and toxic air contaminants (TACs). Particulate matter, also known as PM 2.5, is very small (2.5 microns or less in diameter) and is easily inhaled deep into the alveoli of our lungs, where it causes lung and cardiovascular damage. VOCs and NOx are known as ozone precursors because they react under the influence of sunlight and warm temperatures to form ozone, or smog. This highly reactive compound is an eye, nose, and throat irritant that can also cause permanent lung damage, including scarring of lung tissue and reduced lung capacity. Lastly, toxic air contaminants are those compounds that may cause cancer or other adverse health effects when people are exposed to them. Often, VOCs are also TACs. Fine particulate matter, or PM 2.5, is directly emitted into the air as a byproduct of combustion and can also be formed in the atmosphere (secondary PM 2.5) from the reaction of precursor pollutants including VOC and NOx. Industrial emission controls are used to ensure the levels of these emissions stay in check and do not adversely impact air quality. Fireplaces, barbeques, and other fires create particulate matter, but San Diego County is fortunate to have a warm climate where open fires are not used extensively for comfort purposes. Also, most significantly, vehicles, especially diesel powered ones, are a significant source of PM 2.5, but are being improved to reduce emissions. This is a good thing since diesel exhaust soot is a known carcinogen. Volatile organic compounds include vapors from gasoline and solvents such as paint thinner and industrial chemicals. Gasoline vapor recovery is used when storage tanks, cargo tankers, and motor vehicles are filled up or emptied. In fact, for every 1,000 gallons of gasoline transferred in some manner, about 8 to 10 pounds of vapor are recovered. Finally, even consumer products such as paints, sealants, adhesives, and the like contain VOCs and they are strictly regulated to have fewer smog-forming compounds than ever before. With regard to toxic air contaminants, the District s program has reduced their emissions by 89.2% since 1989, when the program was first implemented. This significant reduction has resulted in reductions of ambient incremental cancer risk from air toxics by 77.8% in Chula Vista and 74.1% in El Cajon (these are the two locations for which the state calculates risk). The estimated risk was 116 in one million for Chula Vista and 141 in one million for El Cajon in 2011, down from 481 and 545 in one million, -2-

3 respectively, in 1989 (note, the report lags the data by several years due to the required analyses). While these are excellent accomplishments, there is still more work to do as large amounts of toxic compounds are still emitted into the air from a wide variety of sources including motor vehicles, industrial facilities, household products, area sources, and natural processes. Nitrogen oxides are also products of combustion, where the nitrogen and oxygen in our air combine under high temperatures, as fuel burns, to form this compound. Not only does it form smog, but by itself it is an eye, nose, and throat irritant. The control of NO x commonly occurs on both stationary sources (e.g. power plants and industrial processes) and on motor vehicles. Fortunately, the brown haze we often saw in our skies decades ago is no more because emission controls have cut NO x emissions. These kinds of clean-up efforts have been going on in San Diego County and elsewhere in the state s 34 other air districts for many decades. The local efforts of the regulated community and the District along with the efforts in upwind air districts have resulted in cleaner air despite the region s large growth in population and motor vehicle use. Next, because vehicular and other mobile sources of emissions contribute about threefourths of all of the air pollutants in the County it is important to continue our efforts to reduce those emissions. While the District does not regulate those entities, it does provide grants (incentive dollars) that enable the cleanup and replacement of older, dirty diesel engines and equipment with less polluting equipment and alternatives. Examples include school bus and truck replacements and retrofits (with diesel particulate filters), an all-electric school bus, off-road equipment replacements (a clean, fuel efficient diesel-hydraulic hybrid excavator), marine vessel engine replacements and coldironing for cruise ships and tugboats (the ships plug-in to shore power instead of running diesel generators when in port), replacement locomotives, and agricultural water pump engine replacements. This program has, to date, provided over $130 million in grants and eliminated several thousand tons of air pollutants. Also noteworthy is the District s annual lawnmower exchange program, where people who trade in an old, yet functional, gasoline powered mower can buy a new, top-rated rechargeable electric mower for less than $100. Since the program began in year 2000, over 7,600 gasoline powered mowers have been retired and an estimated 38 tons of air pollution has been eliminated each year! The ambient air quality standards set by the federal and California governments are used as a yardstick to measure the progress San Diego has made in improving our air quality and making the air healthier for everyone to breathe. For example, San Diego County exceeded the State ozone standard (again, ozone is the chief component of smog) on 160 days in In 2013, the State ozone standard was exceeded on only 2 days, making San Diego one of the most improved large -3-

4 metropolitan areas in California for reducing exceedances of this standard. The chart below is a dramatic illustration of the progress we have made in cleaning up our air over the decades. Values Improved Air Quality Despite Growth Year State 1-Hr Ozone Exceedance Days VOC+NOx Emissions (tons/day/10) Vehicle Miles per Day (millions) Population/100,000 Noteworthy is that the ambient air quality standards themselves continue to evolve and become ever more stringent over time as new health-based information becomes available that shows we are adversely affected by lower levels of air pollutants than previously thought. Meeting these changing standards will require ongoing efforts from the District, businesses, and residents of San Diego County. Our work to provide clean, healthy air to breathe also requires close collaboration as we continue to explore innovative ways of reducing emissions of air pollutants as new requirements force new technologies to become available. Ambient air quality standards exist for a variety of pollutants and District s publication On the Air contains more information about the federal and State Clean Air Standards in addition to general information about air pollution. It is available on the District s website at What Can the Public Do? Although the District works with businesses to control air pollution, the residents of San Diego County are encouraged to make choices every day that can help reduce air pollution. Steps you can take to help clean our air are listed at Lastly, the following table shows the ambient air quality standards the County must achieve if we are to breathe clean air and protect public health. Also shown is San Diego County s attainment status for each air pollutant. -4-

5 Air Quality Standards and Designations for San Diego County Gaseous Pollutants Pollutant Measurement Period Federal Standards and Designations Ozone (O 3 ) (The County must attain the federal standards) Nitrogen Dioxide (NO 2 ) 8-hour ppm Marginal 100 ppb State Standards and Designations 0.09 ppm ppm 0.18 ppm Carbon Monoxide (CO) Annual Arithmetic Mean ppm 35 ppm ppm 20 ppm Sulfur Dioxide (SO 2 ) 8-hour 9 ppm 75 ppb 9.0 ppm 0.25 ppm 24-hour 0.14 ppm 0.04 ppm Particulate Matter Respirable Particulate Matter (PM 10 ) 24-hour 150 µg/m 3 50 µg/m 3 Fine Particulate Matter (PM 2.5 ) (The County must attain the federal standards) Lead (Pb) Annual Arithmetic Mean 24-hour Annual Arithmetic Mean 30-day average 35 µg/m µg/m 3 Unclassified* 20 µg/m 3 12 µg/m µg/m 3 Rolling 3-month average 0.15 µg/m 3-5-

6 To contact the District: San Diego County Air Pollution Control District Old Grove Road San Diego, CA Phone Fax Robert Kard Jon Adams Robert Reider Air Pollution Control Officer Assistant Director Deputy Director -6-

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