Release 98-78
December 31, 1998 
CONTACT:   Richard Varenchik
(626) 575-6730
Joe Irvin
(916) 322-2990
Southland Made Clean Air Progress in 1998

        SACRAMENTO -   As 1998 draws to an end, Southern California continues making significant progress in the battle against smog, the California Environmental Protection Agency's Air Resources Board (ARB) said today.

        "While weather conditions dealt us a small setback this year in Southern California, the long-term trends show remarkable progress," said ARB Chairman Barbara Riordan.  "In spite of a growing population, vehicle fleet and number of miles driven, the number of stage-one smog alerts has steadily dropped over the past three decades," Riordan said.

        This year, with more typical weather conditions,  draws to a close with 12 stage-one smog alerts in the South Coast Air Basin. (A stage-one alert is called when ozone, one of the most health-damaging components of smog, builds to .20 parts per million.)  This compares to last year's El Nino weather pattern which prevented long periods of stagnant air and ended with only one stage-one alert.

        However, a look at long-term trends shows that Southern California is making huge strides in combating air pollution.  In 1970 the South Coast Air Basin suffered through 148 stage-one smog alerts.  By 1980 the number of stage-one alerts had dropped by one-third, to 101.  A decrease of more than 50 per cent was experienced over the next decade with 41 stage-one alerts in 1990.

        By 1995 the number of stage-one alerts had dropped to 14, compared with only seven in 1996.  Riordan attributed the clean-air trend to a number of factors.  "California has the cleanest cars, gasoline and diesel fuel in the nation," she said.  The ARB chairman also noted the work done by the state's 35 local air pollution control districts which work to reduce air emissions from businesses and industry.

        "The work done by the ARB in 1998 can make us confident that emissions reductions and increasingly cleaner air will continue to benefit California long into the future," Riordan added.

        She pointed to a number of ARB actions taken in 1998 including standards to make passenger cars and light trucks cleaner each year through 2010; new standards cutting emissions from on-road motorcycles and first time standards for outboard boat engines and personal watercraft that will make these watercraft as much as 90 percent cleaner by 2008. New standards will also cut emissions from lawn and garden equipment and other off-road equipment.

        Riordan also noted that the ARB began a program of inspections to reduce smoke from heavy-duty diesel trucks in 1998 and co-signed an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to bring cleaner diesel locomotives to Southern California on an expedited basis.

        "ARB staff are currently planning an agenda for 1999 that will keep us moving ahead with clean-air progress," Riordan said.

        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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