Air toxics are compounds in the air that have the potential to harm our health. People exposed to air toxics at higher concentrations over time may have an increased chance of getting cancer or experiencing other serious health effects.
Health effects can include:
People can be exposed to air toxics by various means. Air toxics can come from cars, trucks and other mobile sources, stationary sources (business and industry sources) and indoor sources (e.g., paints and solvents), and natural sources of air toxics like volcanoes and wildfires.
Here are some examples of how you can be exposed:
Examples of air toxics & where they can be found are as follows:
We evaluate risk through development of a health risk assessment. A health risk assessment is a report that estimates the possibility of adverse health effects from emissions of toxic compounds in the air. Risk assessment is the process of estimating risk. In addition to looking at the amount and toxicity of the substance being released, risk assessments also look at other factors including:
It is important to note that numbers provided by health risk assessments (known as HRAs) do not refer to actual cases of health problems that will occur from exposure to air toxics. The risk assessments are computer calculations, a tool to estimate, identify and reduce possible negative health effects.
The APCD has been successful in reducing levels of criteria and toxic air pollutants from existing sources while limiting impacts from new and modified sources within SLO County by integrating federal and state air toxics mandates. Current rules and policies continue to control and reduce toxic impacts, however, additional efforts are needed to protect the health and welfare of the public.
The APCD has several Rules in place that work to limit risk and exposure. For more information on our rules visit SLO's Rules & Regulations page. Specifically the following rules:
APCD also evaluates health risk through our land use planning efforts, and projects subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Screening level health risk assessments may be required for proposed projects as part of the CEQA review process. To find out more, visit our CEQA & Land Use Page.
The California Air Resources Board has also developed a brochure that discusses several of the advancements and steps made to reduce risk from the public throughout the state. Click here to read more!
The Air Toxics "Hot Spots" Information and Assessment Act (AB2588) is a state law requiring facilities to report emissions of toxic air contaminants to the APCD. The program is designed to quantify the amounts of potentially hazardous air pollutants released, the location of the release, the concentrations to which the public is exposed, and the resulting potential public health risk. In addition, it requires significant public health risks to be reduced.
Motor vehicles contribute significantly to air toxics in the environment. We can all help to reduce toxics by driving less and limiting our trips made by car. Try out public transportation, carpooling, walking or biking or telecommuting!
As consumers, you can also choose products that emit fewer Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) compounds, which are often air toxics. Many paints and other products are now available in low toxicity formulations. See the California Air Resources Board’s consumer products page for more information. http://www.arb.ca.gov/consprod/consprod.htm
You can also limit your exposure to tobacco smoke.