Release 97-36

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                    CONTACT:            Richard Varenchik
November 17, 1997                                                                                    (626) 575-6730
                                                                                                                    www.arb.ca.gov
                                                                                                                    Ventura APCD
                                                                                                                    (805) 645-1400

Ventura County Enjoying Cleanest Air In Years

        SACRAMENTO - Take a deep breath and enjoy -- Ventura County is enjoying its cleanest air in years.

        "There's no doubt about it, as the summer air pollution season draws to an end the reports are coming in from across California -- 1997 is a banner year for air quality," said John Dunlap, chairman of the California Air Resources Board (ARB).

        Enjoying this clean air trend along with the rest of the state, Ventura County showed remarkable air quality improvement in 1997, highlighted by a major reduction in lung-damaging ozone, according to Ventura County Air Pollution Control Officer Richard Baldwin.

        "We've shown a long-term downward trend in ozone for more than a decade," Baldwin said. He pointed to figures showing Ventura County going over the state ozone standard (.09 parts per million) an average of 131 days a year in the three-year period from 1983 through 1985. The average dropped to 117 days a year from 1988 through 1990 and was down again to an average of 86 days a year from 1994 through 1996.

        "Preliminary figures so far this year show us over the state standard just 56 days -- a decrease of about 55 percent since 1983-85," Baldwin said.

        ARB Chairman Dunlap attributed the state-wide clean air trend to a number of factors: "California has the world's cleanest gasoline, the cleanest diesel fuel and the cleanest cars and we've continued requiring automakers to reduce emissions from new cars year-after-year." Dunlap also noted that local air districts, such as the Ventura County District, have worked to reduce air emissions from business and industry.

        The ARB chairman pointed out that the clean air gains come at a time when California is celebrating the 50th anniversary of air pollution control programs. These air quality programs date back to 1947, when Gov. Earl Warren signed legislation giving California counties the authority to begin their own air pollution control programs. The pay-off from these programs can be seen in state-wide clean air progress. A review of air quality progress over the past 25 years shows:

- Average ozone levels down 30%.
- Carbon monoxide levels down by 60%.
- Sulfur dioxide down 80%.
- Ambient lead levels down by 97%.

        "These clean-air gains have been made during a period when the state's population and number of automobiles have skyrocketed -- 20 million more cars and 21 million more people since 1947," Dunlap said. However, the ARB chairman said, California still faces the nation's greatest clean-air challenge. "More than 90 percent of Californians live in areas that exceed federal standards for ozone," he said.

        Dunlap suggested simple measures such as keeping cars and trucks tuned up as steps anyone can take to help the state's efforts toward cleaner air. Other suggestions can be found in the brochure "50 Things You Can Do For Cleaner Air" which can be obtained by telephoning the ARB at (800) 242-4450. The ARB web site, which also has the brochure and more clean air information, is located at www.arb.ca.gov.

        The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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