Areas of Alpine, Borrego Springs and Warner Springs have the highest levels of ozone pollution in San Diego County, according to state data that indicate the level of air pollution in a given neighborhood.
Ozone is the main ingredient of smog, which makes it among the most widespread and significant air pollution health threats in California. Studies show it can cause lung irritation and inflammation, and even low levels of exposure can worsen existing chronic health conditions.
Data from the California Environmental Protection Agency show the average daily maximum ozone concentration in central and northern Alpine is .057 parts per million, the highest in San Diego County.
Several areas of San Bernardino, including Highland, Loma Linda and Redlands, top the statewide list with an average daily maximum of .068.
Borrego Springs and Warner Springs fall at No. 2 in the county with .055 parts per million. The measurements reflect the average 8-hour maximum during 2012 and 2013.
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Ozone is created when pollutants from trucks, cars, factories and farms chemically react in the presence of sunlight. Concentrations are collected by the California Air Resources Board, which has several monitoring stations throughout the state.
CalEnviroScreen 3.0 incorporates ozone levels, as well as diesel emissions, groundwater quality, hazardous waste and pesticide levels, into one interactive tool that state officials say helps identify environmentally-disadvantaged communities.
The tool was created to prioritize funding for grants and other programs after Gov. Jerry Brown passed legislation in 2012 that required 25 percent of cap-and-trade auction proceeds to go to projects located in communities particularly vulnerable to pollution and its effects.
According to state research, ozone levels are typically highest in the afternoon and on hot days. Children are the most sensitive to ozone exposure, but it can also affect the elderly and people who spend a lot of time outdoors.
There are different ways of measuring the rate of asthma in California, including the number of people living with asthma, the number of emergency room visits for asthma symptoms and asthma-related deaths.
The asthma data in the map represent the number of emergency room visits for asthma symptoms per 10,000 people from 2011 through 2013. That is currently the best available way to compare differences in asthma prevalence across California at the census tract level. Other methods include asthma-related deaths and the number of people living with asthma.
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