Kern County – January 2, 2012
Officials of Valley AIR* are advising residents that high pollution levels the past month have already damaged lungs and hearts on the valley floor between Stockton and Bakersfield. This health crisis will not end soon as January can often be worse for the breathing public.
Heavy emissions of ammonia from dairies, plus NOx emissions from diesel trucks, offroad equipment, and massive boilers, have combined to make this past December, 2011 the worst month ever measured in terms of total days of violations of federal health standards for PM 2.5. The valley had 29 days of violations with the previous record being 27 in 2000 and the average for 2001-2010, was 17. This month also had the highest average PM 2.5 levels since 2000. Levels of fine particulates averaged 45% higher than the 2001 average and 80% higher than in 2010. Unfortunately, the trend for the past ten years does not show any real improvement in pollution levels despite Air Board claims to the contrary.
The Air Board took credit in a recent press release for the “cleanest winter on record” for the winter of 2010-11 despite the fact there were an unusually high number of storms repeatedly clearing the air. This year they are blaming the weather for one of the worst winters ever recorded. They cannot have it both ways and they have to do whatever is necessary, by law, to decrease pollution during these winter months of stagnant air that occur with regularity.
The question to be asked of the Air Board is what is still causing our bad air and lack of improvement despite massive curtailments of open agricultural burning and fireplace burning beginning in 2003?
“It seems obvious that tighter controls on other local and well-known sources of pollution are going to be necessary so we urge the Air Board to get started,” says Tom Frantz, President of the Association of Irritated Residents.
*AIR (Association of Irritated Residents) has members in five SJV counties including Stanislaus, Fresno, Kings, Tulare and the Valley air basin portion of Kern.