Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007 | Stare down Escondido Boulevard, and the air looks clear. No smokestacks spewing white clouds, no diesel trucks blowing black plumes.
|VIDEO: Every breath you take|
There’s the Lung Doctor, a local store, but it sells smokes. Rows of taquerias make the street smell like tamales, not toxics.
But this Escondido ZIP code — 92025 — was San Diego County’s largest source of business-produced toxic air pollution in 2004. Blame its gas stations, dry cleaners and body shops. They emitted a total of 40,430 pounds of chemicals in 2004, according to a voiceofsandiego.org analysis of the most recent year’s data maintained by the San Diego Air Pollution Control District.
Poway’s 92064 finished a close second with 40,217 pounds of toxic pollution produced. El Cajon’s 92020 was third (37,875 pounds), San Diego’s 92111, the community of Linda Vista, was fourth (35,844), and Vista’s 92083 was fifth (34,356).
Toxic air pollution is all around us. Regulators describe it as a “toxic urban soup.” It comes from the gas we put in our cars, the paints that body shops use, even from the flickering flames inside crematoriums. While its public health risks vary depending on exposure and toxicity, an examination of the toxic air data opens a window into how we pollute our neighborhoods, the chemicals we’re commonly exposed to and the reasons they’re used.
Air pollution is categorized two ways. By toxics, which pose problems locally, and by the larger, regionally problematic sources of pollution from power plants, landfills and quarries. While the air pollution control district maintains air monitors that check for unhealthy levels of the larger sources, no health standards or monitoring exist for toxic pollutants.