Air quality conditions worsen in the Inland Empire due to various environmental pollutants that could cause harm to inhabitants of the area.
Major cities in the area include: San Bernardino, Riverside, Ontario, and Palm Springs.
Air quality is defined as the the degree to which the air has been polluted by various harmful sources, either man-made or biological contaminants that float into the atmosphere.
These are measured everyday with various, highly technological tools used by major organizations to study and record air quality data.
Some common pollutants in the air include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, particulates, ozone, and lead.
Each of these can be very deadly to living organisms, making it harder to survive.
The fight for better air quality is an effort that has been occurring for many decades in the United States, particularly since the 70’s.
However, many residents in the Inland Empire are not aware of the current issue.
David Santos, a resident from Moreno Valley, expressed his knowledge on the topic.
“I don’t know of the air conditions completely as of right now, but it’s not so bad in my opinion,” Santos shared. “Although in winter time it does affect me because I do have asthma and it makes it hard to breathe sometimes.”
While other residents who are aware of the occurring issue understand the drastic effects that air pollution can make on the environment.
“This region is surrounded by mountains and a lot of smog settles here,” Mercedes Morales of Fontana said. “I have been told that in the 1980’s, one was not able to see the mountains. Eventually over time as stricter air quality regulations were enforced, residents claimed they were surprised that the mountains were actually minutes away.”
Bill Magavern, Policy Director of Coalition for Clean Air, explains that the Inland Empire is one of the most air polluted areas in the country.
“The most important air pollutants are smog (ozone), fine particles, and particulate matter 2.5. Air pollution from Los Angeles blows east to the Inland Empire and joins the contaminants emitted in Riverside and San Bernardino counties,” Magavern shared. “The Inland Empire is especially plagued by “logistics sprawl,” the burgeoning number of warehouses and distribution centers that have located in the area.”
Aside from warehouses and distribution centers being the cause of further air pollution, wildfires are also a contributing factor that affects air quality.
A graduate from the California State University San Bernardino, Jennifer Moya, remembered her experience with wildfires in the area.
“There have been fires near Cal State San Bernardino several times and I feel that was hazardous for me and other people. It was hard to breathe while walking to my exams!”said Mova.
However, wildfires usually occur on a natural basis, but nonetheless can cause harm to the atmosphere.
The matters of how these issues have grown throughout the Empire also include factors contributing from outside the area.
“Goods are moved from the ports of LA and Long Beach via diesel-spewing trucks or rail to the Inland Empire, where they are often moved by warehouse equipment running diesel.” Magavern shared.
With the continually growing air pollution situation, it can make one wonder what is happening in the political climate regarding this issue.
Many laws such as the Federal Clean Air Act and California Air Quality Legislation are meant to prevent further pollution and instead reverse the effects of air pollution on people, environment, and climate.
However, the president of the United States intends to remove these laws that were put in place.
“The Trump Administration has been going backward on air quality by moving to roll back key emissions standards,” Magavern said. “The CA Air Resources Board is moving forward with several measures to strengthen standards for cars, trucks, buses and freight equipment.”
Given that the government appeared to be set on removing these laws, citizens would need to act by making personal efforts to reduce air pollution.
Some residents have explained what they have done in their efforts to improve air quality.
“In my home during winter last year, we didn’t use the gas heating systems in our house and used our chimney minimally,” Emily Perez, resident of Ontario, said. “My family uses hybrid cars and there are many other things that my family and I would like to change to become eco-friendly.”
Morales considers the effects of air pollution to the smallest objects.
“I do not buy aerosol sprays and look for liquid products instead. I also try to find products without artificial scents and harsh fumes,” Morales shared.
Overall, residents of the Inland Empire have been and will continue to put in their efforts along with organizations in the pursuit for better air quality.