In Memoriam: Hal Bernson

South Coast AQMD mourns the loss of former Governing Board Member Hal Bernson, who passed away on July 20 at the age of 89. Bernson was a member of the Governing Board from 1999 to 2003 where he represented the Western Region of the Cities of Los Angeles. He also served as a founding director on the agency’s Brain & Lung Tumor and Air Pollution Foundation.

During Bernson’s term at the South Coast AQMD, the Governing Board released the landmark Multiple Air Toxics Exposure Study, MATES II, which helped quantify the exposure risk from sources of air toxic contaminants in the South Coast region. Also during his tenure, the Board enacted regulation and incentive funding to phase out the use of the cancer-causing chemical perchloroethylene by dry cleaners; and adopted the Clean On-Road School Buses measure, aimed at converting the region’s 8,800 diesel-fueled buses to cleaner-fueled models.

In other local leadership roles, Bernson was the 12th District representative on the Los Angeles City Council for 24 years. As chairman of the city’s planning and land-use management committee, he earned the name “Mr. Earthquake” for his dedication to earthquake preparedness. He also took special interest in transportation and planning issues and served as a board member of the L.A. County Metropolitan Transit Authority, and the Southern California Regional Rail Authority.

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