Creating Healthy Communities
Excerpt from Draft Blueprint:
Assembly Bill (AB) 617 signed into law in July 2017, continues California’s environmental leadership in establishing innovative new policies to improve air quality. The bill requires new community-focused and community-driven action to reduce air pollution and improve public health in communities that experience disproportionate burdens from exposure to air pollutants.
California’s air quality programs are responsible for significant public heath improvements through statewide and regional air quality planning requirements, advancement of technology-based solutions, and risk reduction efforts near industrial facilities. Over the last 25 years, ozone levels have dropped over 40 percent throughout the greater Los Angeles region, and the number of unhealthy ozone days has decreased 40 percent in the San Joaquin Valley. Levels of lead measured in the air are now 90 percent lower, and diesel particulate matter, which accounts for over two-thirds of the total known cancer risk in the State, has dropped nearly 70 percent statewide.
However, certain communities continue to experience environmental and health inequities from air pollution. Communities near ports, rail yards, warehouses, and freeways, for example, experience a higher concentration of air pollution due to emissions from mobile sources such as cars, diesel trucks, locomotives, and ships than other areas. Many of the same communities also experience pollution impacts from large industrial facilities such as oil refineries. High concentrations of smaller sources like chrome platers, metal recycling facilities, oil and gas operations, and pesticide use, likewise contribute to localized air toxics impacts in many communities across the State.
The greater air pollution burden in these communities can be measured. For example, while exposure to cancer-causing diesel particles has decreased substantially across all communities, exposure to diesel particles in disadvantaged communities is on average twice that experienced in non-disadvantaged communities.