Juan Romero, the newly appointed Public Information Officer for the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), provided a history, organization, and work of the District; a description of the types of air pollution; work that is being done to reduce air pollution; and resources for citizens.
The Mission of the BAAQMD is The Air District aims to create a healthy breathing environment for every Bay Area resident while protecting and improving public health, air quality, and the global climate.   The District was established in 1955 and includes a 9-county jurisdiction with 101 cities, 5,340 square miles, a Board of 24 elected officials that serves 7 million residents.
Juan proceeded to describe how Particulate Matter and Ozone impact the health of the residents with the following points:
  • Lung irritation, and increased permeability in lung tissue
  • Aggravate severity of chronic lung diseases and rapid loss of airway function
  • Changes in blood chemistry that can result in clots that may lead to heart attacks
  • Increase susceptibility to viral and bacterial pathogens leading to pneumonia in vulnerable persons
  • Irritate the respiratory system and your eyes, nose, throat and cause coughing and headaches
  • Reduce lung function, or make it difficult to breathe deeply and quickly
  • Aggravate asthma and make people more sensitive to allergens (dust mites, pets, and pollen)
  • Can inflame and damage the lining of the lung, like a sunburn on your lungs!
Showing a before and after slide, Juan described how the BAAQDM has been able to improve conditions and create healthy communities through the following efforts with specific examples of each effort (watch the video for details):
  • Air Quality Plans & Rule Development
  • Compliance & Enforcement
  • Grants & Incentives
  • Outreach & Education
  • Monitoring, Modeling & Assessment
Juan noted that the Wildfire Season will be here before we know it and the wildfires have a major impact on air quality in the Bay Area as we have seen in recent years.  To educate and keep the community informed, BAAQMD produces several publications (e.g., brochures, Air District Annual Report, Air Currents Newsletter) runs many programs (e.g., Spare the Air Day) and community outreach.  Among the suggestions Juan provided for individuals to make a difference were
  • Consider using alternative modes of transit: walk, bike, and carpool when you can
  • Reduce the use of fireplaces in your home
  • Continue composting organics and recycling
  • Support Air District rule development efforts
  • Reach out to your county to get involved
  • Share your knowledge
The BAAQMD offers the following Incentive Programs:
For more information about BAAQMD projects and notifications, use the following tools:
  • Check the air quality status at baaqmd.gov or sparetheair.org
  • Call 1-800-HELP-AIR or 1-877-4NO-BURN
  • Text “START” to 817-57
  • Sign up for email AirAlerts at sparetheair.org
  • Sign up for phone alerts at sparetheair.org or by calling 800-430-1515
  • iPhone/Android app
  • Connect via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram
Watch Juan’s complete presentation with slides here.