We all take in incredibly large amounts of air, breathing in between 2,000 and 3,000 gallons of air per day. Imagine consuming 3,000 gallon-sized milk jugs worth of air-- that’s how much an adult breathes in a day, on average!. We quite literally live in air, the way fish live in water. It’s on our skin and in our lungs, and the air we breathe has a significant impact on our health. That air is mostly composed of nitrogen and oxygen, but also contains the particles and gases that humans release.
Industry, transportation, and agriculture all release air emissions that people breathe in and that can be detrimental to human health. Health effects related to air pollution range from irritation of the throat and eyes to asthma and cancer. In fact, exposure to air pollution early in life is known to be associated with childhood asthma. The combination of different pollutants, in addition to population characteristics such as health status, age, and socioeconomic class, contribute to a community’s vulnerability to pollution's negative health effects.
What is AB617?
AB617 is a recent California law requiring local agencies to work at the community level to reduce emissions and improve air quality. It is required that your community’s unique needs and characteristics are taken into account and community member participation is prioritized, especially in underserved communities. This program will work with communities to collect information about air pollution on a block-by-block level. The findings of these community members, as neighborhood scientists, will enhance the Ventura County Air Pollution District's (VCAPCD's) capability to uncover sources of pollution that put residents at heightened risk. VCAPCD currently uses five air monitoring stations in the entire county. While monitoring at this provides a regional perspective of what we're breathing, we hope to expand our understanding of air quality in each affected neighborhood.
This affects your community.
Ventura County is home to some of the underserved communities that AB617 seeks to improve. The county is also home to extensive agriculture and oil and gas industries, continuously releasing pesticides and air emissions that cause long-term health effects in our neighborhoods. Some of the county’s neighborhoods are ranked in the top ten percent for pollution burden and asthma rate. Two of our project sites, West Ventura and South Oxnard, are designated "disadvantaged" or Environmental Justice (EJ) communities by CalEnviroScreen. This area of Oxnard actually has some of the highest asthma rates in the state. VCAPCD currently uses five air monitoring stations in the entire county. While monitoring at that scale provides a regional perspective of what we're breathing, we hope to expand our understanding of air quality in each affected neighborhood.
Where does CFROG come in?
While working on oil and gas projects in Ventura County, CFROG found a disconnect between how land use policy and the permit process ultimately impacts public health. We believe that this is caused by an information gap between the regional scale that agencies such as VCAPCD monitor and the block-by-block reality for neighborhoods. More information gives us and policymakers more effective tools to improve communities. Effective change must be rooted inside each community, and solutions must be based on neighborhood input. From AB617, we identified an opportunity to provide a resource for local government agencies to involve communities and to address the public health impacts of environmental policies. Our ultimate goal is to focus on vulnerable and disadvantaged communities-- as identified by CalEnviroScreen-- within Ventura County to reveal unknown pockets of high exposure for confirmation by the APCD and/or CARB.
To that end, CFROG developed this two-year program and was awarded grant funding under the California Air Resources Board’s Community Air Protection Program (CAPP) to help VCAPCD meet its requirements for community participation. By providing the tools, training, information, equipment, and support, this project puts the people who are most impacted by air pollution at the forefront of creating better policy.