Air quality in San Diego County is the best it's been since pollution-tracking standards were implemented in the 1950s, but the region still fails to meet federal standards for ozone and particulate-matter release, according to a report recently released by the county's Air Pollution Control District.
The county attributes several programs implemented since 1989 in reducing overall pollution risks. The likelihood of residents developing cancer near two regional testing sites in El Cajon and Chula Vista have been reduced by 78 and 74 percent, respectively.
Grants amounting to $130 million have provided ship-to-shore power to prevent cruise and freight ships from idling their diesel engines while in port, eliminating "several thousand tons of air pollutants."
A lawnmower-exchange program started in 2000 has replaced 7600 gas-powered mowers with electric units, cutting 38 tons of air pollution per year. Vapor-recovery nozzles now common at gas stations nationwide prevent 8 to 10 pounds of vapor from being released for every 1000 gallons of gas pumped.
In 1988, ozone levels in the county were considered to be excessive 160 days out of the year. Last year, that count dropped to 2.
Still, pollution levels fail to meet federal and state standards, particularly in heavily impacted areas such as Barrio Logan and Otay Mesa. To that end, the county is promoting a tip sheet to encourage individual effort from residents to continue reducing pollution levels.