ARB Begins Dioxin Monitoring in Bay Area, South Coast Effort is First in Nation to Study Urban Airborne Dioxin Levels
For immediate release
SACRAMENTO – The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Resources Board has kicked off a two-year dioxin air monitoring effort in the Bay Area and South Coast air districts. Nine sites have been chosen as part of California’s dioxin air monitoring program. Comprehensive air monitoring for dioxins in an urban setting has never been done prior to this effort.
Air Resources Board (ARB) Chairman Dr. Alan Lloyd said, “California is taking the lead in monitoring urban areas for dioxin emissions. Results from the testing will help the Board better understand the impact of dioxins on public health.”
The $1 million monitoring effort will test air quality for the presence of dioxins, furans and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at five Bay Area sites and four South Coast locations over two years. The monitoring sites are:
Bay Area South Coast
Crockett Boyle Heights (Los Angeles)
Fruitvale (Oakland) Reseda
Air monitoring sites were selected for their population density and likelihood of dioxin emissions. Children’s Environmental Health Protection Program sites in the study area (Crockett, Fruitvale, Boyle Heights and Wilmington) are being used because they fit the above criteria. The Children’s Environmental Health Protection Program is being implemented in response to changes in state law (Senate Bill 25, Escutia 1999) that require examination of impacts of air pollution on children's health.
The monitoring effort is being carried out with the assistance of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and South Coast Air Quality Management District. District staff are overseeing monitoring equipment operations and sample collection.
The dioxin air monitoring effort is one part of the ARB’s dioxin program. In addition to ambient monitoring, the program includes the testing of potential dioxin-emitting facilities and motor vehicle emissions testing. Total cost for the dioxins program is $2 million.
Dioxins are highly toxic chemicals that are formed from the burning of materials and the manufacture of certain chlorinated chemicals. Dioxins can be emitted from a variety of sources including cars and trucks, waste incineration, chemical manufacturing plants, and other industrial sources that burn fuel. These toxic chemicals are inhaled directly or can contaminate vegetation and be eaten by animals and humans. Dioxins then accumulate in the body. Studies have shown that dioxins can cause cancer and other health problems including birth defects and liver damage.
The ARB has aggressively worked to reduce public exposure to known sources of dioxins and other air toxics. In 1990 the ARB adopted a control measure to reduce dioxin emissions from medical waste incinerators, once the largest known dioxin-emitting source in the state. The measure reduced dioxin emissions from those facilities by 99 percent, and as a result, the number of medical waste incinerators in the state dropped substantially from about 150 mostly small, uncontrolled facilities to fewer than 15 today.
The first round of results from the dioxin monitoring are expected this fall.