San Joaquin Valley Enjoying Cleanest Air In Years
SACRAMENTO - Take a deep breath and enjoy -- the San Joaquin Valley is enjoying its cleanest air in years.
"There's no doubt about it, as the summer air pollution season draws to an end the reports are coming in from across California -- 1997 is a banner year for air quality," said John Dunlap, chairman of the California Air Resources Board (ARB).
Enjoying this clean air trend along with the rest of the state, the San Joaquin Valley showed remarkable air quality gains in 1997, highlighted by a reduction in lung-damaging ozone, according to San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District Officer David L. Crow.
"In the three years from 1988 through 1990 we went over the state ozone standard (.09 parts per million) an average of 144 times each year," Crow said. "The three year period from 1994 through 1996 saw us drop to an average of 121 days over the state standard while so far this year, as of Monday, preliminary figures show we exceeded the state standard on 103 days -- a decrease of about 28 percent since the late 1980s," Crow said.
ARB Chairman Dunlap attributed the state-wide clean air trend to a number of factors: "California has the world's cleanest gasoline, the cleanest diesel fuel and the cleanest cars and we've continued to require automakers to reduce emissions from new cars year-after-year ." Dunlap also noted that local air districts, such as the San Joaquin Valley District, have worked to reduce air emissions from businesses and industry.
The ARB chairman pointed out that the clean-air gains come at a time when California is celebrating the 50th anniversary of air pollution control programs. These air quality programs date back to 1947 when Gov. Earl Warren signed legislation giving California counties the authority to begin their own air pollution control programs.
The pay-off from these programs can be seen in state-wide clean-air progress. A review of air quality gains over the past 25 years shows:
- Average ozone levels down 30%.
- Carbon monoxide levels down by 60%.
- Sulfur dioxide down 80%.
- Ambient lead levels down by 97%.
"These clean-air gains have been made during a period when the state's population and number of automobiles have skyrocketed -- 20 million more cars and 21 million more people since 1947," Dunlap said. However, the ARB chairman said, California still faces the nation's greatest clean-air challenge. "More than 90 percent of Californians live in areas that exceed federal standards for ozone," he said.
Dunlap suggested simple measures such as keeping cars and trucks tuned up as steps anyone can take to help the state's efforts toward cleaner air. Other suggestions can be found in the brochure "50 Things You Can Do For Cleaner Air" which can be obtained by telephoning the ARB at (800) 242-4450. The ARB web site, which also has the brochure and more clean air information, is located at www.arb.ca.gov.