Greg Cox, District 1; Dianne Jacob, District 2; Kristin Gaspar, District 3; Nathan Fletcher, District 4, Jim Desmond, District 5.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Wednesday unanimously approved a plan to reduce ozone pollution in order to improve air quality and comply with federal standards.

During their board meeting covering Air Pollution Control District (APCD) matters, supervisors approved the plan based on scientific modeling from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The current ozone level in the county’s inland foothill area is 0.082 parts per million (ppm), which does not satisfy standards set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency in 2008 (0.075 ppm) and in 2015 (0.070 ppm).

Based on EPA’s calculations, the San Diego region is classified as “severe” for the 2008 and 2015 targets. Because of its terrain, climate and location near the Pacific Ocean, the San Diego region is predisposed to ozone pollution.

Ozone is considered a harmful air pollutant caused by emissions from motor vehicles, industrial plants, consumer products and other sources. Exposure to ozone pollution can harm the respiratory system.

According to the county Land Use & Environment department, the plan calls for a 30% reduction in on-road emissions by 2026, followed by a 40% reduction by 2032. It will also focus on incentives such as more electric vehicle chargers, scrapping old cars and equipment replacement programs.

Before crafting a plan, the county held several public workshops.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher on Wednesday described the ozone-reduction plan as “vitally important,” adding that San Diego ranks sixth in the nation for the worst air quality (based on an American Lung Association study). Poor ozone levels quality can trigger asthma and other harmful conditions, Fletcher said.

“I’m pleased to see us moving forward, but a plan is just a plan,” Fletcher told his colleagues. “We need to move rapidly in implementing these strategies.”

According to the county, the San Diego region currently meets national standards for five of six common air pollutants: carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and sulfur dioxide. However, it does not meet standards for ozone and must develop a plan to reduce emissions, based on federal law.

Ozone levels have been declining in the region and are forecasted to continue on a downward trend as a result of county, state and federal efforts, according to Donna Durckle, spokeswoman for Land Use & Environment.

The APCD will now submit the plan to CARB and the EPA for adoption, Durckle added.

— City News Service