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Introducing AQMD

The South Coast AQMD believes all residents have a right to live and work in an environment of clean air and is committed to undertaking all necessary steps to protect public health from air pollution, with sensitivity to the impacts of its actions on the community and businesses.   This is accomplished through a comprehensive program of planning, regulation, compliance assistance, enforcement, monitoring, technology advancement, and public education.  (Return to Top)

What is The AQMD?
The AQMD is the air pollution control agency for all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.  This area of 10,000 square miles is home to nearly 16 million people - about half the population of the whole state of California.  It is the second most populated urban area in the United States and one of the smoggiest.

Different types and levels of air pollution can cause or contribute to everything from watery eyes and fatigue to respiratory disease, lung damage, cancer, birth defects and premature death.  Because this areas smog problem is so severe, AQMD often finds itself at the forefront of the nations emission reduction efforts.  (Return to Top)

What AQMD Does
AQMD is responsible for controlling emissions primarily from stationary sources of air pollution. These can include anything from large power plants and refineries to the corner gas station. There are about 28,000 such businesses operating under AQMD permits. Many consumer products are also considered stationary sources and include house paint, furniture varnish, and thousands of products containing solvents that evaporate into the air. About 23% of this area's ozone-forming air pollution comes from stationary sources, both businesses and residences.  The other 77% comes from mobile sources--mainly cars, trucks and buses, but also construction equipment, ships, trains and airplanes. Emission standards for mobile sources are established by state or federal agencies, such as the California Air Resources Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, rather than by local agencies such as the AQMD.  (Return to Top)

How AQMD Controls Pollution
AQMD develops and adopts an Air Quality Management Plan, which serves as the blueprint to bring this area into compliance with federal and state clean air standards.  Rules are adopted to reduce emissions from specific types of equipment, industrial processes, paints and solvents, even consumer products.  Permits are issued to many businesses and industries to ensure compliance with air quality rules.  AQMD staff conducts periodic inspections to ensure compliance with these requirements. 

The test of whether these efforts are working is the quality of the air we breathe.  AQMD continuously monitors air quality at more than 30 locations throughout the four-county area. This also allows AQMD to notify the public whenever air quality is unhealthful.  (Return to Top)

AQMDs Sources of Revenue
Approximately 66% of AQMDs General Fund revenue comes from fees paid by regulated businesses, 15% from motor vehicle registration fees and the balance from other sources.  Fines and penalties constitute less than 5% of AQMDs revenue. 
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Progress So Far
Air quality in this area has continually improved despite an enormous increase in population and cars. For example, maximum levels of ozone, one of our worst smog problems, have been cut to less than one third of what they were in the 1950s, even though today we have nearly three times as many people and four times as many vehicles.

In the past decade, we have virtually eliminated Stage I smog alerts, the level at which schools are advised to keep children from playing outside. We have not reached Stage II levels, which used to occur 100-120 times a year, since the 1980s.  (Return to Top)

The Job Ahead
The clean air effort still has a long way to go.  Even though recent years have been the cleanest on record, our air still exceeded the federal health standard for ozone on 28 days in 2004.  Maximum levels are almost twice as high as the federal standard for clean air.

State and federal law requires this area to meet existing clean air standards by the year 2010.  However, new, tougher federal air quality standards for ozone and particulates issued in 1997 will require reductions above and beyond those already planned.  AQMD estimates it will take until at least 2014 to meet all the new standards.  This may seem like a long time to continue to live with smog.  But the cleanup effort is enormous.  Even though we already have the strictest pollution control requirements in the nation, we still have to reduce some types of pollution by up to 60% if we are to rid the area of smog.

The war on smog began in this region more than a half century ago.  With continued commitment and sensitivity to the impacts of efforts to control smog, residents can be assured that public health standards for air quality will be achieved.  (Return to Top)

How You Can Help
A lot of our pollution comes from the products and services we use every day.  We can all help by making some simple changes in the way we live: carpool, use public transit, use water-based paint, wet down sources of dust, avoid aerosol products, recycle, and conserve energy.

For additional information, call 1-800-CUT SMOG to order AQMDs free pamphlets,
"Simple Things You Can Do to Clean the Air" and Dirty Air.
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AQMD Office Locations and Phone Numbers
Headquarters - (909) 396-2000
21865 Copley Drive - Diamond Bar, CA 91765
Branch Office - (310) 233-7000
1500 W. Carson St. Suite 115 - Long Beach, CA. 90810