The Port of Los Angeles announced Thursday that new air quality data from monitoring stations in and around the port show airborne elemental carbon concentrations in the port area fell in 2010 for the fourth straight year. The data, part of an annual air quality report, show that elemental carbon was down 10 percent compared to 2009 and cumulatively down 50 percent since 2006. The measured 2010 levels were the lowest since monitoring began in 2005 – despite the port handling 16 percent more cargo in last year.
Elemental carbon, used as an indicator of ambient diesel particulate matter, or DPM, is most often seen as the soot component of diesel exhaust. DPM has been labeled a toxic air contaminant and known carcinogen by California state health officials.
The port has made reducing DPM, oxides of nitrogen and oxides of sulfur a priority since adopting the omnibus environmental policy, the Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), in 2006.
“I’m very pleased to be able to report that we are living up to our CAAP commitment – we pledged to cut Port-related emissions by 45 percent, and these results show that for diesel exhaust we did more,” Port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said.
The new data also showed a reduction in the levels of another major air pollutant related to diesel exhaust, PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 microns in size). The port's 2010 PM2.5 levels met federal and state standards for the third straight year, and for the first time PM10 (particles less than 10 microns in size) also met state standards in the port-abutting community of Wilmington (there is no federal standard for PM10).
The port cites this data as proof positive that the CAAP, other port actions, and significant buy-in from stakeholders and industry are improving the port-area air quality in significant ways.
”This dramatic decline in the amount of DPM and the fact that we have attained air quality standards for both kinds of PM show how effective the measures we adopted in the Clean Air Action Plan are at reducing harmful air pollutants in neighboring communities,” Port’s Director of Environmental Management Chris Cannon said. “Every year shows an improvement over the previous year, making me very optimistic that we are going to achieve our Clean Air Action Plan goals.”
A major component of the port's CAAP (adopted in conjunction with the neighboring Port of Long Beach) has been the port's self-titled Clean Truck Program. Implemented in 2008, the program required all trucks serving the two ports to be 2007 model year or newer as of Jan. 1, 2010. With the assistance of a more than $650 million investment by the trucking industry to modernize the ports-servicing truck fleet, more than 90 percent of all moves in the dual port complex are now handled by a drayage fleet of roughly 10,000 cleaner-burning 2007 or newer model year trucks.
The Port of Long Beach is expected to issue its annual air quality report within the next several months.