ARB's Community Health

This page last reviewed March 3, 2009


Air Monitoring Results

These data represent only a portion of the data that have been collected as part of this study. Although the air quality monitoring in Fruitvale ended in April 2003, not all of the data have been processed and reviewed. Therefore, no conclusions about the overall meaning of the data should be made at this time.

Monitoring details

The Fruitvale community in Oakland (Alameda County) was selected because it is impacted by several categories of pollutant emissions and because of the high school-age population in the area. Fruitvale lies between two major freeways that are a significant source of vehicular emissions. The area is downwind of several industrial operations that are sources of pollution. The Oakland International Airport, less than five miles from Fruitvale, is a source of aircraft and ground-vehicle emissions.

In the initial phase of the study, monitoring of ambient air quality at Lockwood Elementary School in the Fruitvale community began in November 2001 and ended in April 2003. Lockwood Elementary School is part of an educational complex that includes a middle school and a child development center. Approximately 70 air pollutants were monitored at the Fruitvale site. A table of air pollutants monitored is provided here. Criteria air pollutants were measured, some of which have health-based standards established; a standard is a level above which a pollutant is known to cause adverse health effects in humans. Toxic air pollutants were also measured. These pollutants are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious illnesses. There is no safe level for toxic air pollutants. The data presented from Lockwood Elementary School represent 18 months of monitoring for organic gases and particulate matter. Data for the pollutants are presented here.

Criteria gaseous pollutants are routinely monitored at about 200 sites in California; one of the closest is Livermore. Ambient levels of toxic air pollutants are routinely monitored at approximately twenty sites in California's air toxics monitoring network. Closest to Fruitvale in the same county is Fremont-Chapel Way, where data for the last 3 years are available for comparison. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) operates a number of toxic air pollutant monitoring sites that are closer, but much fewer pollutants are monitored.

Criteria Pollutants

Criteria pollutants are those air pollutants that have health-based standards established. Information on these so-called criteria pollutants can be obtained below:

High Risk Toxic Air Pollutants

The Air Resources Board has identified the top 10 high risk toxic air pollutants and nine of them were measured in Fruitvale at Lockwood Elementary School. The top 10 high risk toxic air pollutants have potential health risks and cancer risks. Diesel particulate matter is a significant contributor to the potential cancer risk from air toxic pollutants in California, but diesel particulate matter was not measured at Lockwood Elementary School because a method for directly measuring this pollutant is still being developed. However, the potential cancer risk is estimated for diesel particulate matter for the entire San Francisco Bay Area air basin. As shown in a graph illustrating the cancer risk due to individual pollutants, diesel particulate matter is the highest contributor to risk from air toxic pollutants. The next highest are benzene and 1,3-butadiene. Information on the nine measured high risk pollutants can be obtained below:

Metals of interest

Due to location of refineries in the community, some metals were of particular interest in this study. Information on these metals are below:

Diesel Particulate Matter and Elemental Carbon

While diesel particulate matter contributes the most to overall risk from toxic air contaminants, it has proved very elusive to measure. We are exploring the options to estimate the impact of diesel particulate matter on public health in the community, including using elemental carbon as an estimator. However, there are technical difficulties to using elemental carbon to estimate diesel particulate matter. First, other sources of elemental carbon besides diesel particulate matter became more significant as emissions from the diesel fleet decreased as a result of improved diesel technologies. Second, there are two elemental carbon analysis methods that have evolved which give significantly different results when measuring the same particles in the air. In this study, the Air Resources Board uses one elemental carbon analysis method. Information on elemental carbon are presented below:

PAHs and Dioxins

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and dioxins have been identified as toxic air pollutants that may disproportionately impact infants and children. Benzo[a]pyrene is one of the six PAHs monitored in this study. Currently there are no data available for dioxins in the Oakland study area. Dioxin measurements began for the Oakland area in December 2001 at Lockwood Elementary School and is expected to end around December 2003; the link below provides information on current activities. Information on PAHs and other compounds can be obtained below:

All data

For all available data in Microsoft Excel format: