Despite tremendous strides in air pollution reduction, some communities in the Bay Area still experience relatively higher pollution levels, and corresponding health effects, compared to their counterparts in other parts of the Bay Area. Air pollution levels of many pollutants are highest in close proximity to pollution sources—such as near freeways, busy roadways, busy distribution centers, and large industrial sources. Communities where these types of sources are concentrated contain areas where air pollution is consistently relatively high and corresponding health impacts are greater. The Community Air Risk Evaluation (CARE) program represents a critical step toward reducing health disparities linked to air quality. The program has brought together government, communities and business in an effort to understand and address localized areas of elevated air pollution and its adverse health impacts on communities.
Goals of the CARE Program are to:
Identify areas within the Bay Area where air pollution is most contributing to health impacts and where populations are most vulnerable to air pollution impacts;
Apply sound science and robust technical analyses to design and focus effective mitigation measures in areas with highest impacts; and
Engage the communities and other stakeholder groups in the program and develop productive relationships with local agencies to craft mitigations that extend beyond what the Air District could do alone.
CARE Program Report
In April 2014, the Air District issued a report summarizing the accomplishments of the CARE program over the past decade. The report describes how the CARE program identified regions of the Bay Area that experience relatively higher levels of toxic air pollution and correspondingly greater health effects. These areas are typically close to large-scale pollution sources - such as freeways, busy roadways, active goods movement centers, and large industrial sources. The report shows how the program employed the latest scientific research and robust technical analyses to design effective mitigation measures in these communities.
The map shows areas identified as impacted by the Air District. ArcGIS shapefiles of these areas are available.
In order to engage communities and other stakeholder groups and develop productive relationships with local agencies, the CARE program involved close collaboration between the Air District and an appointed CARE Task Force. This task force included members of environmental and community groups, researchers and regional health and planning department officials. The CARE Task Force concluded their activities upon publication of the CARE report, but the Air District will continue to rely on task force findings in its programs and policy-making.
The CARE report describes how the CARE program provides a useful framework for guiding policy decisions, developing effective air pollution reduction programs in impacted areas, and fostering long-term positive partnerships with community groups.
The report reviews works completed over the past decade, considers challenges, and previews the road ahead. Over the years, the CARE program has introduced many new approaches to evaluating and reducing air pollution problems. Highlights include:
Developing of a regional toxic emissions inventory
Identification and mapping of communities with the greatest health impacts
A truck activity survey in West Oakland conducted with community assistance
A monitoring study that characterized variations in air pollution in West Oakland
Tools and guidance for infill development
The pioneering concept of a Community Risk Reduction Plan and methods to support it
While the CARE report presents the closing of the first major chapter in the CARE program, the Air District will continue the work of the CARE Program by conducting research to understand how air pollution impacts Bay Area residents at the community level and by focusing mitigation efforts to reduce those impacts.