Outside pollutants choke Riverside

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City strives to negate effects with green initiatives

While Riverside does not produce large amounts of pollution on its own, reports have shown the air quality of the city is one of the worst in the nation.

With the geographical location of Riverside in the eastern portion of the South Coast Air Basin, outside pollutants coming from larger metropolitan cities and the current from the Pacific Ocean are plateauing within the city, affecting health and living conditions.

Sam Atwood, media relations manager for the Air Quality Management District, stated there has been a dramatic decrease in air pollution levels in the past 20 years, although progress in the past 10 years has slowed, resulting in the city’s current situation.

“Much of the air pollution levels in Riverside are due to geography and the photochemistry of smog,” Atwood said. “The highest ozone levels in our region are in our inland valleys, including Riverside. For fine particulate matter, Riverside has the highest levels in our region partially due to its location downwind of the dairy preserve.”

With the Los Angeles basin having one of the most severe air pollution problems in the country because of its geography, Atwood explained that with the climate of the region, and the activities of 16 million people and 11 million vehicles, pollution is inevitable.

The pollution is now traveling to Riverside, which is resulting in economic and health issues.

“Air pollution is a major public health problem,” Atwood said. “It is responsible for an estimated 5,000 premature deaths each year in Southern California and billions of dollars in costs to the economy.”

Dr. Bonjun Koo, assistant professor of environmental science, has been able to work and study the current air situation in Riverside.

“The air quality within Riverside is related to many pollutants such as arsenic, an inorganic pollutant, benzene, an organic pollutant, carbon dioxide, mercury and lead. These all are pollutants attributing to our low air quality,” Koo said. “Homefacts tracks the most recent air monitoring and pollution testing compared to other cities in the U.S. For our grade out of 10, we are at one.”

The AQMD, which is the air pollution control agency for the region, updates its air quality management plan every three to four years to ensure they maintain federal health standards for pollutants.

“The city is making a strong effort to reduce the levels of air pollution,” Koo said. “Some efforts include minimizing energy consumption, planting more trees, recycling efforts, working for a green city and the help of the Green Act Committee on the city supervision.”

While these are all goals made by the city to reduce the levels of air pollution, college students can help. Students can find a variety of ways to work for a greener city.

“I use the front of a scantron for one test then have the students use the other for the second test,”Koo said. “We can also carpool, which minimizes pollutants such as carbon dioxide, plant more trees and vegetables that will improve air quality through photosynthesis, turn off electricity whenever we can and turn in electronic homework assignments.”

While Riverside is one of the most polluted cities in the nation, knowing the facts and finding out how to get involved can help to reduce the pollution levels and better the city.

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