At the August 16 Town Hall meeting, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) provided an update on air quality within the City of Paramount. SCAQMD had begun their investigations in late 2013, after receiving community complaints about metallic odors, which were found to be coming from Carlton Forge Works. The company has since implemented measures to reduce emissions and odors. Per the District’s long-term air monitoring efforts originating from that previous issue, SCAQMD staff reported new, slightly elevated readings of hexavalent chromium, a toxic metal air pollutant and carcinogen, during the first few months of 2016.
These readings prompted SCAQMD to deploy several additional air quality monitors to identify the sources of hexavalent chromium, also known as chrome 6. Spread throughout the city’s industrial sector, SCAQMD installed nine more monitors within Paramount, adding to the original three devices from the previous investigation. In late October, two of these monitors detected hexavalent chromium at 350 times higher than typical background levels for the area, which are around 0.11 nanograms per cubic meter.
After finding high levels of this compound, SCAQMD notified and sought assistance from Paramount City staff. The city immediately arranged a Town Hall meeting, which was held four days later, providing a space for the District to broadcast their discoveries to the public. Paramount staff has and continues to work with SCAQMD by providing assistance and resources to the District as well as all other regulatory agencies that have become involved in this issue.
The levels of hexavalent chromium have since declined from their extraordinary height, but are still much higher than typical levels. SCAQMD has continued to test additional sections of the city to ensure the affected area remains limited; meanwhile, the city is planning to explore further testing options to validate that the highest levels are restricted to the industrial section.