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L.A. Now Live: Air board to monitor pollution next to freeways

August 26, 2013
  • Jason Low, atmospheric measurements manager for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, at a special air monitoring station along the 710 Freeway in Long Beach.
Jason Low, atmospheric measurements manager for the South Coast Air Quality… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

Join us at 9 a.m. when we talk with Times reporter Tony Barboza about the decision by air-quality regulators to begin monitoring pollution levels near major Southern California traffic corridors.

For the first time starting next year, the South Coast Air Quality Management District would be providing data to nearly 1 million Southern Californians who are at greater risk of respiratory illness because they live within 300 feet of a freeway.

Under new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements, air pollution monitors will be installed at four sites next to some of the region's busiest freeways. Similar steps will occur in more than 100 big cities across the country.

Scientists have linked air pollution from traffic to a long list of health problems, including asthmaheart disease, bronchitis and lung cancer.

Though tens of millions of people nationwide live within a few hundred feet of a major road, monitoring stations established to measure common air pollutants typically have been placed away from such thoroughfares and other obvious sources of contamination. That's because the monitors are intended to measure pollution across entire regions to determine if they are within health standards set by the state and federal government.

Of the district's 35 air-quality monitoring stations measuring pollutants across a four-county basin of 17 million people, none sit close to a major roadway. Environmental groups say that system underestimates exposure levels in many neighborhoods. 

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