The Planning department is directly responsible for developing strategies to meet federal and state planning requirements, administering local incentive programs, and maintaining the District's air monitoring network. The Planning department is also charged with reviewing environmental documents for projects subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). During review, staff works to ensure that all air quality impacts associated with land use and transportation are properly addressed and mitigated to the extent feasible. Additionally, other departments in the District administer programs in an effort to reduce emissions and improve air quality through implementation of permit requirements, rules and regulations, and compliance programs.
Ambient Air Quality Standards
Both the state and federal governments have established Ambient Air Quality Standards for criteria pollutants to help protect the public from the harmful effects of air pollution. Based on collected monitoring data, the state and federal governments designate areas as “attainment” or “non-attainment” for the various pollutants. Below is a table of the current designations for the District for each of the criteria pollutants:
Most of the planning work done by the District relates to the two main pollutants of concern for the District Ozone and Particulate Matter:
Ozone is formed as a result of a photochemical reaction involving nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Sources of NOx are typically those that involve combustion activities including on and off road vehicle engines and boilers or process heaters at industrial facilities. VOCs (also commonly referred to as reactive organic gases, or ROG) are commonly associated with consumer products and organic solvents.
Particulate matter consists of very small liquid and solid particles that can be suspended in air and inhaled. Particulate matter can be coarse (PM10) or fine (PM2.5) depending on the actual diameter of the particle. PM10 is particulate matter measuring 10 microns or less in diameter. Sources of PM10 typically include motor vehicles, wood burning stoves and fireplaces, windblown dust from open land, construction and landfill dust, and wildfires. PM2.5 is particulate matter measuring 2.5 microns or less in diameter. The majority of PM2.5 is generated by the combustion of fuels. PM2.5 is a primary public health concern because these particles are small enough to be inhaled and can become lodged into the deepest parts of the lung.