Infrastructure

State Grant to Fund Expansion of Air Quality Network in San Ysidro, Calif.

The money, from the California Air Resources Board, will fund the addition of more than 100 sensors at the world’s busiest border crossing.

by David Hernandez, The San Diego Union-Tribune / July 5, 2018
Vehicles lined up for US immigration and customs processing at the border entry point in San Ysidro, California. Shutterstock

(TNS) — Casa Familiar, a San Ysidro-based social services nonprofit, has secured $492,000 in state funds to continue and expand a project that tracks air quality across the border community.

The grant from the California Air Resources Board will continue to fund the existing network of 12 sensors that measure air pollution in San Ysidro, where its proximity to the world’s busiest border crossing has long led to concerns about health risks associated with air pollution.

The grant will also pay for an additional 10 $2,000 sensors, as well as 100 lower-cost sensors that will be placed in 50 locations, such as schools to measure air pollution indoors and outdoors.

"Our immediate proximity to the busiest border crossing in the world makes San Ysidro a special place, but it also creates special air quality challenges for our communities," said David Flores, community development director for Casa Familiar.

The nonprofit launched the project two years ago, with funds from the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Association.

Scientists from the University of Washington and San Diego State University have provided equipment and technical assistance. As part of the project, a website was launched last year to provide real-time data on air quality in San Ysidro.

Flores said preliminary findings of a study that is part of the project confirm there is a link between air pollution and traffic that flows through the port of entry.

"There's now undeniable data that links those two for the first time,” Flores said.

The final report is expected to be released this month.

The project aims to understand the impacts of air pollution and identify the areas in San Ysidro most affected in an effort to develop strategies to mitigate the effects of air pollution.

“Through this program we are working hand in hand with local communities to identify the largest sources of pollution and then take action to solve the problem,” Richard Corey of the California Air Resources Board said in a statement.

With the new sensors, the project is expected to cover a larger area — outside of San Ysidro — including nearby regions of Otay Mesa and the eastern edge of Imperial Beach.

The grant from the board was made available through its Community Air Protection Program, which was created by a bill Gov. Jerry Brown signed last July. The program aims to improve air quality in communities most impacted by air pollution.

Additional grants secured for the project from other sources will fund six sensors that will be placed in Tijuana and two job positions for technical assistance, Flores said.

©2018 The San Diego Union-Tribune Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.