Latest Air Monitoring Data Shows Concentrations of Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM) Down by 50 Percent in Wilmington and 40 Percent in San Pedro Compared to 2006

SAN PEDRO, Calif. — May 5, 2011 — New data from four state-of-the-art air quality monitoring stations in and around the Port of Los Angeles show concentrations of elemental carbon in the Port area air fell in 2010 for the fourth straight year.  Elemental carbon is used as an indicator of diesel particulate matter, or DPM, which is the soot produced by the combustion of diesel fuel. DPM has been designated a toxic air contaminant and known carcinogen by State of California health officials. 

At the end of 2010 elemental carbon was down by 50 percent in Wilmington compared to 2006. A similar pattern occurred at the San Pedro monitoring station. These drops in elemental carbon, to the lowest levels since the Port began monitoring in 2005, happened even as cargo volumes at the Port have rebounded – in 2010 the Port handled 16 percent more cargo than in 2009, but elemental carbon at both the Wilmington monitoring and San Pedro stations were 10 percent lower than in 2009.

“I’m very pleased to be able to report that we are living up to our Clean Air Action Plan commitment -- we pledged to cut Port-related emissions by 45 percent, and these results show that for diesel exhaust we did more,” said Port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz, Ph.D.

Concentrations of another key air pollutant related to diesel exhaust, PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 microns in size) met federal and state standards for the third straight year, and for the first time PM10 (particles less than 10 microns in size) also met state standards in Wilmington (there is no federal standard for PM10). These results show how, year after year, air quality in the L.A. Harbor is improving as a result of substantial investments the Port, its tenants and other Port-related businesses have made in recent years by purchasing cleaner equipment and participating in a variety of emission-reduction initiatives. New state air quality regulations also have helped slash emissions from the big diesel engines that power the movement of cargo at the Port.

Since 2005 the Port has operated four air quality measurement stations: one in San Pedro, another in Wilmington, and two inside the Port complex, including one in the middle of port operations.  The stations are located so as to measure air quality both in the Port complex and in the communities downwind of the Port, where air quality is affected by emissions from the ships, trucks, terminal equipment, harbor vessels and train locomotives that move cargo through the nation’s largest container port.

The data from 2010 shows that elemental carbon concentrations in the air at the station in the midst of the cargo terminals has fallen by approximately 55 percent since 2006.  The decline at the community stations is smaller than at this in-port station because Port sources make up a smaller fraction of the total emissions at the community stations, so that declines in port sources have less effect.

”This dramatic decline in the amount of DPM and the fact that we have attained air quality standards for both kinds of PM show how effective the measures we adopted in the Clean Air Action Plan are at reducing harmful air pollutants in neighboring communities,” said Chris Cannon, the Port’s Director of Environmental Management.  “Every year shows an improvement over the previous year, making me very optimistic that we are going to achieve our Clean Air Action Plan goals.”

One of the Clean Air Action Plan measures is the Port’s Clean Truck Program. Truck emissions, a substantial source of DPM in Port-area air, have been substantially reduced by the Clean Truck Program. Since the program was launched on October 1, 2008, the Port has distributed more than $70 million to spur the purchase of more than 2,700 cleaner, newer trucks. There are currently more than 10,000 trucks serving the San Pedro Bay port complex that meet or exceed the U.S. EPA 2007 heavy-duty truck emissions standards.

Cannon  also cited the State’s restrictions on the sulfur content of fuel used in vessels and equipment operated at the Port, the Port’s Alternative Maritime Power program, and the San Pedro Bay Vessel Speed Reduction program as key measures the State and the Port have used to tackle vessel emissions.  The Port has also spent millions of dollars retrofitting cargo handling equipment and harbor craft engines with pollution control devices, and pioneering the use of alternative fuels and power systems.  The air quality monitoring stations measure, in real time, ambient concentrations of several key air pollutants, including two sizes of particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5 ). In addition, twenty-four hour integrated samples of particulates are collected on filters every third day for detailed chemical analyses, which cannot be done with real-time monitors. Those analyses include measuring the amount of elemental carbon in the filters.

Each station also collects wind speed, wind direction, and temperature data so that the air pollutant data can be used in models that track the movement of pollutants. The real-time data can be viewed on the CAAP website and past filter-based data back to 2005 can be viewed on the Port’s website

The Port of Los Angeles is America’s premier port and has a strong commitment to developing innovative strategic and sustainable operations that benefit the economy as well as the quality of life for the region and the nation it serves.  As the leading seaport in North America in terms of shipping container volume and cargo value, the Port generates more than 830,000 regional jobs and $35 billion in annual wages and tax revenues.  A proprietary department of the City of Los Angeles, the Port is self-supporting and does not receive taxpayer dollars.

The Port of Los Angeles – A cleaner port.  A brighter future.