Smog Bust: Measuring Long Beach Air Quality

Sep. 5, 2012 / By

Everyday families and members of the Long Beach community live, work, and play near the freeways, busy streets, and the port of Long Beach. Many of them who live in the surrounding affected areas of downtown, central Long Beach, and the Westside are unaware of the negative impacts that being in this area may have on their health.

As a resident of Long Beach, I know we don’t necessarily think about we are inhaling into our systems daily. But the truth of the matter is, being next to these places causes us to inhale ultrafine particulate matter: a type of pollution is due to the emissions that come off of the vehicles from the port, the freeway, and traffic.

Inhaling ultrafine particulate matter is very dangerous to people’s health. One may ask, “what are we putting ourselves at risk of?” For those who live next to traffic, they are more at risk for cardiovascular disease, anxiety, learning disabilities and developing asthma. Pregnant women living near traffic are more at risk to have babies that are born too early, babies with birth defects, or babies with low weight.

The regulated measurement for ultrafine particulate matter in an outdoor area should be under 5,000– anything above that number is unhealthy. Voicewaves conducted a test in August on the Westside, near the 710 freeway, and the number went as high as 155,000. That makes the air quality in that area 35 times worse than what it should be.

A lot of this may seem frightening to hear, but there are things that a community can do to protect our health and reduce air pollution. We can carpool, take the bus, and be more eco-friendly to our environment  and we can also contact policy makers and voice our concerns. The first step is to identify the problem and educate ourselves. If we collaborate together as a community, we can reduce air pollution and live in an environment that’s better for our health.

For more information, go to The Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma.

Community organizer Jessica Tovar from the Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma discusses how the Long Beach community can reduce air pollution.

Community member Martha Sandoval speaks to us about what she is committed to do to help prevent air pollution and why.


Jessica Tovar does a demonstration of a P-Trak desting and explains what the P-Trak device is and how it works.

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Angela Or

Angela Or is a 19 year old Cambodian and Thai American in Long Beach. She is a graduate of Lakewood High and a student at Cypress Community College. She comes from a family of nine which includes her parents, her six sisters, and herself. She is interested in advocating for equality and volunteering for charity. Angela is a youth-leader from CCEJ and facilitates the Building Bridges human relation camps. She has also volunteered with the GSA-Network and the Free the Children foundation, buying goats for families in India and helping build a clinic in Kenya with a humanitarian club. At her high school, she was the president of the Human Relation's Club, co-president of the Film Club, and a member of the Best Buddies' Club, devoting her lunches to spend time with youth with disabilities. Her goals include graduating college with a Bachelor's Degree or higher and having a career as an ultrasound technician. Angela aspires to make the world a better place through being an activist and using digital media to express the voices in our community.