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Port Cities Work to Rid Air of Pollutants

Air monitoring stations in communities adjacent to California ports record dangerous levels of nitrogen oxide as well as fine soot and sulfur oxides. The NewsHour reports on how port cities are working to combat the pollution.

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  • SAUL GONZALEZ, NewsHour Correspondent:

    With their sea air and ocean breezes, coastal communities are often seen as healthy alternatives to smoggy cities.

    But in towns with big ports, breathing can be risky. Ports spew out a toxic brew of contaminants, making them major sources of air pollution.

    That's the case at the neighboring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Together, they make up the largest and busiest harbor facility in the United States and one of the worst polluters in Southern California, according to Sam Atwood, with the region's Air Quality Management District.

  • SAM ATWOOD, Air Quality Management District:

    The smog-forming emissions from the ports are greater than those emissions from all six million passenger vehicles here in Southern California. That gives you an idea of the magnitude.


    On an average day, the ports emit some 10,000 tons of air pollutants. Most of the emissions come from ships. Heavy trucks and locomotives that haul cargo to and from the ports also pump out pollutants.

    Air-monitoring stations in communities adjacent to the ports record dangerous levels of nitrogen oxide, as well as fine soot and sulfur oxides. The chemicals cause high rates of heart and lung problems among dock workers and area residents, according to public health experts.