ARB's Community Health

This page last reviewed March 3, 2009


Air Monitoring Results

These data represent only a portion of the data that was collected as part of this study. No conclusions about the overall meaning of these data should be made until all of the data are fully reviewed. Note: The air quality monitoring in Wilmington began on May 19, 2001 and ended in July 2002.

Monitoring details

The Wilmington community of Los Angeles was selected for air quality monitoring due to the location of high-risk facilities within the community and the proximity of these facilities to schools in the area. Wilmington is home to several oil refineries. It is also situated near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which are sources of diesel and fugitive emissions from bulk transport activities. There are about 12 schools and childcare facilities in the area.

In the initial phase of the study, ambient air quality monitoring near Wilmington Park Elementary School in Wilmington began in May 2001 and ended in July 2002. At the Mahar Charity House across from the Wilmington Park Elementary School is the actual location where we collected information on approximately 70 air pollutants. A table of air pollutants monitored is provided here. These pollutants are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious illnesses. Some have health-based standards established; a standard is a level above which a pollutant is known to cause adverse health effects in humans. The data presented represent all of the months of monitoring for organic gases and particulate matter. Data for some of the 70 air pollutants monitored at Wilmington are presented here. The Air Resources Board Laboratory is still reviewing data for some of the pollutants.

Ambient levels of toxic air contaminants are routinely monitored at approximately twenty sites in the California air toxics monitoring network. Closest to Wilmington are North Long Beach, Los Angeles-North Main, and Burbank in Los Angeles County. In addition, gaseous pollutants are routinely monitored at these 3 sites plus Hawthorne and Azusa.

Criteria Pollutants

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

The carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen data monitored by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) for Hawaiian Elementary School may be obtained by contacting the SCAQMD through their Internet site.

High Risk Pollutants

Nine of the high risk pollutants were measured in Wilmington at Wilmington Park Elementary School. Diesel particulate matter is a significant contributor to the potential cancer risk from air toxics in California, but diesel particulate matter was not measured at Wilmington Park Elementary School because a method for directly measuring this pollutant is still being developed. The potential cancer risk is estimated for diesel particulate matter. As shown in a graph illustrating the cancer risk due to individual pollutants, diesel particulate matter is the highest contributor to risk from air toxics. 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 many 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 used one elemental carbon analysis method, derived from the NIOSH 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 Wilmington study area. Dioxin measurements began for the Wilmington area in December 2001 at the Wilmington Park Children's Center, adjacent to Wilmington Park 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: