The San Joaquin Valley is fined 29 million dollars each year because ozone pollution exceeds federal standards. An Air Alert will be activated next week.
Air Alerts are meant to lower pollution and end the millions in fines.
Although the millions in fines return to the Valley in the form of programs that promote clean air - it’s still a financial burden. We each pay $12 on it every year at the DMV.
Monitoring stations in cities all over the Valley constantly measure air pollution.
They report pollutants like ozone every hour. Ozone is a good thing high in the Earth’s ozone layer but it is harmful to breathe… even at levels far below where the federal fine is concerned. The main source on the ground is exhaust.
San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District spokesperson Janelle Schneider says, “Ozone is an exasperating factor in respiratory conditions such as asthma. It’s an oxidizer and will damage lung tissue over time.”
In order to avoid the federal fines, hourly ozone readings at these stations must stay below 125 parts per billion.
And most of the time they’re below 50 parts per billion (ppb). A lot of traffic might push readings to 80 ppb. Stagnant weather can do the same thing without rush-hour traffic. 80 ppb is not a healthy level of ozone. But combine both traffic and weather and it’s we can reach a very unhealthy level of 125 ppb– where the fine is levied.
That’s what happened last year on September 20, 22 and 29 in Clovis, Fresno and Parlier.
Because of back-to-school traffic, readings are expected to be near 125 ppb next week. An Air Alert has been issued to ask the public to do what they can to limit pollution. Carpool, ride bikes, even going into restaurants instead of using the drive-through is enough to make a difference.
Schneider says, “This is not only a public health issue but also what resulted in a 29 million dollar penalty for not attaining that 1-hour standard.”
Monitoring stations are all over the Valley. The Air District’s Real Time Air Advisory Network or ‘RAAN’ program allows people to find nearby monitoring stations in order to make decisions on outdoor activities.