Despite Improved Air Quality Statewide, Some East Bay Communities Can’t Breathe Easy

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— People in the Bay Area are breathing cleaner air these days, according to a new statewide report that credits ‘Spare the Air’ days as one factor. However, officials from the Alameda County Health Department have said dirty air is still a problem for many people in their area.

Ralph Bohrman with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District said certain areas are seeing a significant drop in unhealthy levels of fine particulate matter, but in places like West Oakland, Richmond and Martinez it’s a different story.

“There are certain communities that are either near highways, freeways, near the port,” said Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan.

In fact, three zip-codes in Oakland have the highest asthma rates in the state.

Brenda Yamashita with the Alameda County Health Department said that won’t be changing anytime soon.

“We still have industry. We still have industry where pollution comes from that industry,” Yamashita said.

All three agreed that while it may take decades to reduce auto and industry pollution, we shouldn’t make matters worse.

“We don’t want to build a complex of apartments next to a freeway,” said Yamashita, but that’s exactly what a lot of cities continue to do.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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