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Supervisor Fletcher Introduces Policy to Tackle Cancer-causing Toxic Pollution


Supervisor Nathan Fletcher is calling for the County of San Diego to provide greater protection to our residents from toxic, cancer-causing pollution. He has docketed an item to be voted on Wednesday by the County Supervisors that would enact stricter protections for sites in San Diego County that emit toxic pollutants.

“We have a choice to make,” said Supervisor Fletcher, “Do you believe the County should reduce the risk of cancer-causing pollutants, consistent with the vast majority of our state – or not?”

Pollution from stationary sources like power plants, landfills, refineries and other industrial sites are deemed to be Toxic Hot Spots under state law because they produce carcinogens such as benzene, lead, chromium, formaldehyde. The air quality impacts from these Toxic Hot Spots are measured based on cancer risk.  The San Diego County APCD right now has an allowable threshold for toxic hot spots of 100 cancers per million people. That means if one million people are exposed to the emissions from a single site, then it is possible that 100 of those one million people are at risk of getting cancer.

“The current threshold in San Diego is ten times higher than many other districts in California,” continued Supervisor Fletcher, a member of the California Air Resources Board. “Right now we are not going far enough to protect the public from Toxic Hot Spots and that needs to change. We have a moral obligation to do everything we can to improve air quality and protect the public’s health.”

Approximately 75% of Californians live in communities with more stringent regulations on pollution from Toxic Hot Spots than in San Diego County. For example: 

●        The Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District has allowable emissions of 10 cancers per 1 million,

●        The South Coast Air Quality Management District has allowable emissions of 25 cancers per 1 million, and

●        The Bay Area Air Quality Management District is currently at 25 cancers per 1 million, and next year it will be reduced to 10 cancers per 1 million.

Policy Introduced by Supervisor Fletcher

The policy being introduced by Supervisor Fletcher will 1.) Direct the APCD to evaluate the current toxic air pollutant threshold adopted by APCD; 2.) Implement a regulatory process to amend the current rule (APCD Rule 1210), which includes industry and community partners, to obtain input on and analyze reducing the toxic air pollution significance threshold with the intent of improving public health; and 3.) Return to the Board with a proposed rule no later than April 2020.