Sacramento, Dec. 29, 2017 – Californians can now see air pollution and air toxics emissions data for industrial facilities in their neighborhoods on the California Air Resources Board (CARB) website. Emissions data for greenhouse gases (GHGs), as well as smog causing pollutants and air toxics has been updated through 2015 and can be accessed through the CARB Air Pollution Mapping Tool.
“This new tool is designed to improve transparency and accountability in California’s air pollution control program,” said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “Air quality monitoring reports are public information but they are often difficult for the public to access. Now anyone with access to a computer or a smartphone can look up emissions data for any major facility in the state.”
Transportation is the largest source of both GHGs and most air pollutants, but hundreds of refineries, factories and other facilities across the state also release tens of millions of tons of air contaminants. Development of this tool is an important step by CARB staff to address the requirements of AB 197 (E. Garcia, 2016) by providing broader and more user-friendly access to climate-changing gases and air quality data.
The tool allows users to search for individual facility data by name, industrial sector, year, type of facility and pollutant. Large emitters can be isolated by air basin, air district, county, town or zip code. Users can also see a number of overlays, including the statewide CalEnviroScreen map of disadvantaged communities and state assembly and senate districts. The mapping tool uses data from the state’s greenhouse gas mandatory reporting program. Local air districts provided data on criteria (i.e. smog-forming) pollution and air toxics emissions.
The mapping tool allows viewers to compare greenhouse gas emissions with toxics and criteria emissions from the same facility. Future versions of the tool will rely on mandates outlined in AB 617 (C. Garcia, 2017), which call for enhanced, publicly available criteria pollutant and toxic air contaminant reporting for large and high-risk facilities in the state. In the future, the tool will help provide a consistent approach to reporting toxics from individual facilities across local air districts.
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Parts of California suffer the worst air quality in the nation. Communities in the San Joaquin Valley and the Los Angeles Basin live in the country’s only two “extreme non-attainment” areas for ozone (smog). At some point during the year, more than 90 percent of Californians live within areas determined to have unhealthy air and much of the state now sees the growing impacts of climate change. Numerous state and federal regulations aim to reduce emissions, and with the Pollution Mapping Tool Californians can see for themselves the benefits of those programs in their communities. The Pollution Mapping Tool will be updated annually with 2016 data expected to be added in spring 2018.