Spanning April 10 to 11, 2017, an Environmental Health and Enforcement Symposium was hosted by the Del Amo Action Committee in downtown Los Angeles. The two-day conference focused on success stories of building robust enforcement partnerships in environmental justice communities. In one such workshop, the City of Paramount and its recent issues with hexavalent chromium emissions were discussed; the City and its efforts on the matter were hailed as proactive and collaborative.
During the first session of workshops, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) discussed Advanced Community Monitoring. This presentation focused on new air monitoring technologies that can be used in communities to identify excess air pollution, including air toxics emissions. Over the past five years, new monitoring capabilities have developed; government agencies are constantly and continually assessing these technologies for their efficacy and reliability. The City of Paramount, along with a handful of other cities and counties throughout California, were given as examples of successful community monitoring and the effectiveness of the state’s regulatory air monitoring network.
When the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) reported elevated readings of hexavalent chromium in Fall 2016, the City immediately arranged a Town Hall meeting and communicated openly with SCAQMD staff and other regulatory agencies to provide all assistance and resources required. Paramount’s willingness to cooperate and collaborate with SCAQMD allowed the District to quickly and effectively ascertain the sources of hexavalent chromium and implement standards to lower the elevated readings of the carcinogen. The City continues to work with SCAQMD to monitor air quality levels throughout the area.
Paramount’s community, working together with local government agencies with greater regulatory power, has been essential in the effort to lower hexavalent chromium emissions: though regulatory air monitoring is required on a federal and state level, air quality can be evaluated and unofficially monitored by residents and neighbors. As such, these community members can provide vital feedback to both their local government officials and agencies such as SCAQMD to ensure that regulatory monitoring is working as it should.
Moving forward, CARB is aiming to improve air quality in a number of communities and working with these communities to address their concerns. The City of Paramount is just one case where various agencies have come together to coordinate efforts and inspect suspected sources of pollution emissions. However, the City is currently working on a new, innovative business licensing process that allows for more oversight by SCAQMD. With this pilot program underway, Paramount will have more opportunities to work closely with SCAQMD, CARB, and other regulatory agencies to better protect its residents and future generations.