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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on January 7th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 45 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 20, Issue 45

County meets state ozone standards for first time

By Zac Ezzone

Despite continuous population growth and an increasing number of cars on the road, Santa Barbara County met state ozone standards for the first time.

At its Dec. 12 meeting, the California Air Resources Board designated the county as attaining state ozone standards. This designation is pending final approval from the state Office of Administrative Law.

“Looking toward the future, we are committed to preserving this new ozone attainment status,” Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) Director Aeron Arlin Genet said in a news release. “We recognize that we also have significant work to do to reduce levels of particulate matter and greenhouse gas emissions countywide.”

The state board created initial designations of ozone levels for each of California’s air districts following the passage of the California Clean Air Act of 1988, Molly Pearson, the APCD’s planning division manager, said at the district’s Dec. 19 meeting. 

According to the APCD, ozone forms when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds released from cars, industrial facilities, and other sources react with heat or sunlight. Heavy ozone concentrations can harm a person’s respiratory system in different ways, such as reducing lung function or worsening asthma symptoms.

Some of the district’s efforts to reach this attainment status include local efforts to promote alternative transportation options, the evolution of cleaner vehicles on the road, and rules and regulations that require ozone contributors to control the amount of emissions they produce.

The county is only one of 14 throughout the state—and the only one south of Sonoma County—to reach this goal. Most of the other counties that have reached this goal, including Humboldt and Trinity, are in the northern part of the state with a smaller population and less industrial emissions sources, Arlin Genet said at the Dec. 19 meeting.

“It’s just pretty darn remarkable what we’ve been able to do with the amount of individuals who are living in our area, the amount of sources of emissions that we have, that we’ve been able to accomplish this milestone,” Arlin Genet said.

With this designation, the only federal or state air quality standard the county doesn’t meet is one that measures particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter. This includes matter such as wind-blown dust and smoke, according to the district.

—Zac Ezzone

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