Release 98-10
April 9, 1998
CONTACT:  Richard Varenchik
(626) 575-6730
Gennet Osborn
(916) 322-2990

Air Resources Board Seeks Public Participation in Air Quality Forums

        SACRAMENTO - The public is invited to learn more about particle air pollution and to express their concerns and ideas about studying and controlling the tiny, dust-like particles during a series of California Air Resources Board (ARB) air quality forums. The first is set for Sacramento on Monday, April 20.

        "We will use the forums to educate the public on the health effects of fine particle pollution and ask for suggestions in shaping our program to control these pollutants," said John Dunlap, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board (ARB).

        Inhalable particles 10 microns or less, often referred to as PM 10, are capable of eluding natural defenses in the nose and throat and reaching the lungs. Ten microns is about one-seventh the diameter of a human hair. Exposure to these particles has been shown to cause increased asthma attacks, aggravate bronchitis, and cause premature death in people with existing respiratory or cardiac problems.

        The smallest inhalable particles, those 2.5 microns and smaller, are roughly one twenty-eighth the diameter of a human hair. They are so tiny they can become lodged deep in the lungs. New federal air quality standards finalized in July, 1997 require states to reduce PM 2.5 over the next 15 years.

        By the middle of the next decade, the ARB and local air districts must formulate so-called State Implementation Plans or "SIPs" that outline plans to reduce unhealthful levels of PM2.5. The SIP will describe the fine particle problem in California and outline actions to reduce it. The ARB will use information from the state-wide public forums to guide future particle research and to develop the SIPs.

        Each forum will open with presentations by ARB and the local air district on the health effects of particle pollution, the new federal standards, existing programs that reduce particle pollution, local conditions and issues, and planned future activities. The forum will then be opened to public comment and discussion.

        "This is a unique opportunity for the public to work with government in building a new clean air plan for California," Dunlap said.

        The forums will be held in Sacramento April 20; Ventura April 22; San Diego April 30; Placerville May 6 and Concord May 7. Other forums will be held in Fresno May 13; Bakersfield May 14; Riverside May 29; Palm Desert June 5; and Colusa June 10.

        Sacramento's forum, one of 10 the ARB has scheduled around the state, will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at ARB headquarters, 2020 L Street. For more information or for special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact Kellie Williams, (916) 322-9567 or TDD (916) 322-3646. The e-mail address is

        The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

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