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Study Suggests ‘Dirty Air’ Clogging Southeast LA County Cities

By Pete Parker and Randy Economy

A statewide census map has been released by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CEAP) to expose the area’s most laden by pollution, which provides pressure to members of the community with long-term health risks.

The finding show that many local communities in and around Southeast Los Angeles County have scored poorly in regards to the condition of their air quality.

One city in particular has scored low in the survey with the western part of Cerritos being designated by state officials as being at high-risk levels for contaminants.

The visual provided by the CEAP shows the Environmental impact index, Diesel particulate matter, Drinking water toxicity, Ozone concentration and Toxic releases into air.

Los Angeles County, San Joaquin Valley and the Inland Empire suffer from the most pollutants in the California and local cities in the “Gateway Region” appear to be no better.

The cities of Downey, Bell Gardens, Montebello, Cerritos, Artesia, Hawaiian Gardens, Norwalk, La Habra, La Palma, La Mirada Lakewood, Bellflower and Commerce are centered within the contaminants polluting our environment.  Many residents in these areas include working class to low-income Latino families who have had little influence or lack authority on the improvements of their communities.

Environmental activists are saying that this new tool, released by Cal/EPA, provides the public with an approximate realistic view of conditions in areas as small as a few thousand residents which pressures officials to act in highly polluted neighborhoods.

In 2009, a major controversy erupted when USA Today published an emotionally charged series of articles that claimed Cerritos had one of the most “dangerous” air qualities in the United States.

The AQMD also tested emissions from a chemical treatment facility the EPA report blamed for much of the risk in Cerritos at the corner of Carmenita Road and Alondra Boulevard and found its current pollution levels were far lower than those the EPA cited.

The EPA sent a letter July 16 of 2009 to then Cerritos Mayor Bruce Barrows saying emissions from the facility “are now known to be at a safe level.” The letter said the EPA would investigate further and promised “to continue to improve the accuracy” of the information, it releases.

Barrows and officials from Cerritos spent hundreds of thousands of public tax dollars in media consultants to fight the negative publicity that was generated by that past article published by USA Today. The previous situation was covered by media outlets as far away as London, China and South America.

USA Today eventually reported that local municipal officials challenged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “identified a neighborhood in Cerritos as facing the nation’s highest cancer risk from air emissions. After the EPA released its assessment, which USA TODAY reported on June 24, California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District reviewed the data and found gross overestimation in Cerritos and several other places because the EPA relied on outdated or incorrect emission data.”

The USA Today also reported, “The AQMD also tested emissions from a facility the EPA report blamed for much of the risk in Cerritos and found its current pollution levels were far lower than those the EPA cited.”

On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times had a front page expose targeting the latest findings by California officials with the Environmental Protective Agency.

Senator Kevin de Leon is quoted in the LA Times article by stating, “It is a major breakthrough that will give us a better opportunity to direct or redirect precious resources to the communities that need it the most.”

Cal EPA officials pinpointed communities with the highest exposure and vulnerability to multiple environmental hazards, including polluted air and water, waste facilities and contaminated soil.

The Multiple environmental index of Downey, Cerritos, Artesia, Hawaiian Gardens, Norwalk, La Habra, La Palma, Lakewood, Bellflower and Commerce suggests that the immediate area to be “more likely to be contaminated with pollutants.”








The Diesel particulate matter in the cities of Downey, Montebello, Norwalk, La Mirada, Commerce, Cerritos, Bellflower, Hawaiian Gardens and the City of Lakewood are approximately in the 80-100 percentile of being at risk with contaminants.







Drinking water toxicity in the areas of Cerritos, Artesia, La Palma, Hawaiian Gardens, parts of Bellflower, Downey, Bell Gardens, Commerce and Montebello are near the approximate 80-100 percentile of being at risk with contaminants.







The Ozone concentration of Downey, Bell Gardens, Montebello, Cerritos, Artesia, Hawaiian Gardens, Norwalk, La Habra, La Palma, La Mirada Lakewood, Bellflower and Commerce are in the low percentile range of being at risk with contaminants.









The cities of Downey, Bell Gardens, Montebello, Cerritos, Artesia, Hawaiian Gardens, Norwalk, La Habra, La Palma, La Mirada Lakewood, Bellflower and Commerce are all 100 percent at risk with toxic releases into the air.







Documents obtained by HMG-CN suggest projects could include energy-efficiency upgrades for homes in low-income areas, improvements to bus and rail systems, urban forestry projects and programs to fund cleaner trucks and equipment near ports, rail yards and distribution centers.

If you would like to review, the report based upon the research on the pollution levels please click on the following link.

Draft California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool 2.0





  • steve smith says:

    Ya,ignoring federal immigration law and welcoming invasion does have a negative environmental impact.

    The available clean air and water supply are fixed, human pollution emissions are only limited by federal immigration law.

    More people = more pollution.

    You can vote for living space or vote to kill your own friends and family with more pollution and air & water rationing. I vote to breathe.

  • In the Shadow of the Park says:

    A few years ago “Mayor” Bruce Barrows spent a ton of Cerritos’ resident’s money to trash a USA Today newspaper reporter for her story on our city’s poor air quality.
    Well, what a surprise she was right on target and once again, Brucie Boy owes an apology to a whole bunch of people. I hope he doesn’t try to buy his way out of this one, we can no longer afford his wastefulness.

  • McMahon says:

    Not at all surprised at this said air quality report card. Our present quality is not a rocket science.
    • Maritime Vessels
    • LAX Air Traffic.

    Councilperson Bruce Barrows Legacy will be nothing more, then reciprocate of (Blowing + Abuse of Perks) & wasteful junket trips. His 16 yrs tenor as councilperson, well our city has never looked so bad, just look at my blog, he has done almost nothing to cure and reverse Urban Menopause Blight. Cerritos Republicans have abused our city electro voting for past 16 yrs, so now look at our mess our city public works are developing. Now city wants to impose a dwelling tax, to rid the horrid trespassing or our city boulevard parkway trees at the expense of the property owners. Residents will be banking the negligence of City Council pertaining to trees-curbs-gutters-sidewalks.

    While standing on top of Palos Verdes Peninsula, approximately 1,600 feet elevation, one can witness the air currents developing from Catalina Eddy’s circulating around Catalina Island in to Long Beach Port- to mainland of Socal. On the southern tip of Catalina Island, there’s a strong current in both the water and air currents, which circulate around, which eventually, blow ocean pollution into the general 605 freeway (Gateway ) corridors & northwards.

    Remember the ocean now is heavily used for maritime and air traffic, so these particulates are being transferred into the main land area. The wind patterns between the Catalina Island Channel and mainland are creating new pollution fields, which are being dumped on to mainland. Ocean manures are creating these high numbers for these statewide reports.

    Another unknown too many, are our Northern SA winds, which whip around Malibu Peninsula and blow at hi elevations, (2500 – 10,000 Ft Elevations, over Santa Monica Bay and towards Catalina Channel. These hi velocity winds are prevalent at sunset; carry all of the Santa Monica Bay air currents over Catalina Channel and letter back towards the 605 corridor. Santa Monica Bay is home to LAX digest of air particulates.

    Still feel strong, our OC/LA cities should be investing in Solar Resources, to create more solar collectors, hence reduction of fuel gas purchasing and usage.