[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Partly sunny
Partly sunny
66°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
October 19
1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]


[UCLA] – Take the time to enjoy a deep breath this weekend when the 405 freeway closes for Carmageddon II. If it’s anything like last year, the air quality is about to get amazing.

In study findings announced Sept. 28, UCLA researchers report that they measured air pollutants during last year’s Carmageddon (July 15–17) and found that when 10 miles of the 405 closed, air quality near the shuttered portion improved within minutes, reaching levels 83 percent better than on comparable weekends.

Because traffic dipped all over Southern California that weekend, air quality also improved 75 percent in parts of West Los Angeles and Santa Monica and an average of 25 percent regionally — from Ventura to Yucaipa, and Long Beach to Santa Clarita.

The study was led by two professors at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability: Yifang Zhu, who is also an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and Suzanne Paulson, who is also a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences.

While the researchers expected cleaner air, they didn’t expect the improvement to be so dramatic.

“The air was amazingly clean that weekend,” Paulson said. “Our measurements in Santa Monica were almost below what our instruments could detect, and the regional effect was significant. It was a really eye-opening glimpse of what the future could be like if we can move away from combustion engines.”

Click to enlarge

The research gives a peek at what the air would look like in a healthier Los Angeles with a vast majority of hybrid and electric vehicles and shows how quickly less driving can improve key measures of air quality. But to get a regional effect, the researchers said, you need a regional drop in traffic, like what Los Angeles saw during the first Carmageddon — and it doesn’t last if traffic returns.

“The effect was gone by the next week,” Paulson said. “We measured fresh emissions: pollutants that come directly from cars. It’s a very short-term effect.”

 

Taking measurements

The researchers measured ultrafine particles (less than 0.1 microns in diameter), which are key indicators of real-time traffic levels, and also fine particulate matter known as “PM2.5” (less than 2.5 microns in diameter), which includes tailpipe emissions and new particles created when the emissions interact with the atmosphere. PM2.5 can spread farther from the freeway and last longer than ultrafine particles, but both are pollutants with health risks. Exposure to near-roadway pollutants has been linked to increases in asthma, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, low birth weight, pre-term births and other ailments, the researchers noted.

Zhu and Paulson found that when traffic dropped more than 90 percent on the closed 405, with only construction vehicles still on the move, ultrafine particles dropped by 83 percent. PM2.5 concentrations dropped 36 percent.

More broadly, ultrafine particles and PM2.5 levels dropped 75 percent across a swath of West Los Angeles near the I-405/I-10 interchange stretching from Santa Monica to Westwood. Elsewhere, they measured PM2.5 and found the air 31 percent cleaner in Ventura, 19 percent cleaner in Yucaipa, 30 percent cleaner in Long Beach, 23.2 percent cleaner in Santa Clarita and 19.9 percent cleaner in Northridge.

“There is no safe level of PM2.5 concentrations, where you would no longer observe health impacts, so any reduction is an improvement,” Zhu said. “This study shows that with such dramatic traffic reductions, there are specific air-quality improvements. It gives policymakers and the public incentives to put more effort into reducing traffic emissions.”

Zhu’s team set up instruments 50 meters upwind and downwind of the 405 near UCLA, where Constitution Avenue crosses the freeway, and measured pollutant levels for 12 hours each Friday, Saturday and Sunday the weekend before, during and after the first Carmageddon.

Zhu used a condensation particle counter and a scanning mobility particle sizer to measure ultrafine particles, a dusttrack to measure PM2.5 amounts, and a video of traffic on the 405 that allowed her team to count and compare traffic volumes.

“People knew about the closure, so we started to see a traffic reduction early Friday, and our data showed a similar trend almost immediately,” Zhu said. “Pollutant levels drop in real time.”

Paulson’s team drove instruments around in their “mobile measurement platform” — a late-1990s electric Toyota Rav-4 equipped with a fast mobility particle sizer to detect ultrafine particle levels and a dusttrack to measure PM2.5 concentrations. The team has used the same route since 2008 and can compare measurements over the years, from Santa Monica’s Sunset Park neighborhood to the Santa Monica Airport, and from north of the 10 freeway, across the 405, and into Rancho Park and Westwood.

For measurements across the Southern California basin, Zhu and Paulson used South Coast Air Quality Management District measures of PM2.5 levels and CalTrans measures of traffic.

 

Carmageddon II: To breathe, or not to breathe?

Though the pair will not duplicate their research for Carmageddon II this weekend, if there’s less traffic again, the basin will get a brief reprieve from pollution.

“It has to be a significant, regional change, not just 10 miles of freeway closing,” Paulson said. “It was really, really, really clean in Santa Monica, and I don’t think that was due just to the 405, because the wind blows in from the ocean. I think it was due to people not driving around in Santa Monica.”

Indeed, traffic was measurably lower across the Southland, compared with a normal weekend: down 56 percent in Northridge, 21 percent in Ventura, 17 percent in Santa Clarita and Westminster, and 4 percent to 7 percent in Yucaipa, Long Beach, Pomona and Chino.

In fact, without fancy instruments like the dusttrack or a fast mobility particle sizer, traffic may be the only way the average person will know whether air quality is better this weekend.

“These pollutants are too small to see,” Zhu said. “The public will notice if there’s less traffic, but they won’t detect the particles in the air.”

It’s not clear whether Los Angeles will get a repeat of last year’s “Carmaheaven” traffic, but now we know to take advantage, Paulson said.

“If it turns out there’s very little traffic on the freeways,” she said, “everyone should go out and experience what clean air can be like.”

 

The UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability is an educational and research institute that unites disciplines: physical, life and social sciences; business and economics; public policy and urban planning; engineering and technology; and medicine and public health. IoES includes multiple cross-disciplinary research centers, and its environmental science undergraduate degree program is one of the fastest growing majors at UCLA. IoES advises businesses and policymakers on sustainability and the environment and informs and encourages community discussion about critical environmental issues.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


HIGHER EDUCATION LINKS
LOCAL COLLEGE HEADLINES
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
The fall 2017 Star Party at College of the Canyons' Canyon Country campus on Friday, Oct. 27 will focus on the pathways to space exploration that exist for star-gazers who are captivated by the many mysteries of the universe.
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, in response to President Trump’s recent decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, has declared Oct. 16-20 "DACA Advocacy Week."
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
COC and the Hart District will host the 2017 College & Career Fair in the college’s Honor Grove on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017
California State University, Northridge will make history on Thursday, Oct. 26, by becoming the first California State University with a Sustainability Center.
Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017
Raising a child is a demanding job for any parent, especially when supportive resources seem to be elusive or nonexistent.
Keep Up With Our Facebook

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The College of the Canyons Athletics department is inviting all players, coaches and cheerleaders associated with a Santa Clarita Valley youth sports league or cheer organization to attend Saturday's Cougar football game free of charge.
Oct. 21: SCV Youth Teams Invited to Free COC Football Game
College of the Canyons freshmen Joanna Roecker and Cassandra Lee both turned in scores of 79 to lead the Cougars to a second place team finish at the Western State Conference (WSC) event hosted by Glendale College at Brookside Golf Course on Monday.
COC Falls Short at WSC Glendale
Beginning Monday, October 23, 2017, the city of Santa Clarita will increase the frequency of street sweeping throughout all areas of the City.
Oct. 23: City Begins Increased Street Sweeping Frequency
In a battle for Western State Conference, East Division supremacy, it was College of the Canyons that came out on top Tuesday night, as the Cougars scored two second half goals to secure a 2-0 win against visiting Antelope Valley College. Justine Hoeft and Jennifer Roney collected goals for the Cougars (11-2, 2-0).
COC Secures Win Against AVC With Two Second-Half Goals
The upcoming 10-year anniversary of the Buckweed Fires offers Santa Clarita residents a reminder of the ever-present fire danger in Los Angeles County, as blazes ravage the northern half of the state, as well.
County, City Officials Reflect on 10-Year Anniversary of Buckweed Fires
Dreamation Craft Guild will be hosting a boutique at Canyon High School, Nov. 18, from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. to benefit the family of John Phippen, the Santa Clarita resident who was killed in the Las Vegas shooting.
Nov. 18: Holiday Marketplace Benefiting John Phippen Family
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – To ensure drivers, passengers, and children are properly restrained while traveling California’s roadways, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has partnered with the California Office of Traffic Safety on a new traffic safety campaign entitled, “California Restraint Safety Education And Training” (CARSEAT).
CHP’s New Traffic Safety Campaign Focuses on Saving Lives, Reducing Injuries
1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]
The fall 2017 Star Party at College of the Canyons' Canyon Country campus on Friday, Oct. 27 will focus on the pathways to space exploration that exist for star-gazers who are captivated by the many mysteries of the universe.
Oct. 27: Star Party at COC Canyon Country Campus
Determined to transform the deeply troubled Los Angeles County Probation Department, the Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted unanimously to consider an independent entity that would provide guidance, oversight and accountability.
Supes Consider Entity for Probation Reform Guidance, Oversight, Accountability
Alexia Cina of Canyon Country was arrested Wednesday in connection with the death of a mother of six children in a head-on crash on Golden Valley Road on October 6.
Woman Charged with Manslaughter, DUI in Death of Mother of 6
The 22nd annual Santa Clarita Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, November 5, 2017, following the Santa Clarita Health and Fitness Expo on Saturday.
Nov. 4-5: 22nd Annual Santa Clarita Marathon Events
The Los Angeles Dodgers jumped to a 3-0 lead in the best of seven series following Tuesday night’s 6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field.
Dodgers Out to Sweep Cubs in NLCS Game 4
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's 2017 Medal of Valor Awards were held Tuesday in Los Angeles, and SCV Sheriff's Station Deputy Dmitry Barkon was recognized for his bravery and heroic actions.
SCV Sheriff’s Deputy Dmitry Barkon Earns Medal of Valor
Now is the time for all good college-bound high school seniors to join the 'Race to Submit' applications for FAFSA and CADAA grants to help cover college expenses.
High School Seniors: ‘Race to Submit’ is on for 2018 College Financial Aid
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies interrupted a smash-and-grab burglary on The Old Road early Friday morning, arresting one suspect and seeking two alleged accomplices still at large.
SCV Deputies Catch Window-Smash Burglars in the Act
Pukúu Cultural Community Services, founded in 1971 by members of the local Fernandeno-Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, will host its 13th Annual scholarship gala fundraiser, "Night with the Stars," in Sunland on Saturday, November 4 starting at 6 p.m.
Nov. 4: Local Tribe Honors 3, Celebrates Native American Heritage Month
California's Attorney General today filed a motion to compel the federal government to follow the law and pay the subsidies that millions of Americans rely on to lower the out-of-pocket costs in their insurance plans.
California AG Fights to Keep ACA Cost-Sharing Subsidies
Santa Clarita business owners are encouraged to take the city's broadband feasibility study online survey and participate in the next phase of the study -- in-person focus groups scheduled for October 30.
Oct. 30: Focus Groups in Next Phase of City Broadband Study
The $17 billion "California WaterFix" project reached a tipping point Tuesday after a Silicon Valley water district voted against Gov. Jerry Brown’s approach in favor of a less expensive, scaled-back version.
Silicon Valley Water Board Wants Delta Tunnels Downsized
Maryama, a band led by CalArts alumna Maryama Mirbagheri (Music MFA 17), was recently nominated for a 2017 Hollywood Music in Media Award in the World Music category.
Maryama Nominated for Hollywood Music in Media Award
The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, in response to President Trump’s recent decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, has declared Oct. 16-20 "DACA Advocacy Week."
California Community Colleges Ramp Up DACA Advocacy
COC and the Hart District will host the 2017 College & Career Fair in the college’s Honor Grove on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon.
Oct. 21: 2017 College and Career Fair at COC
The College of the Canyons Art Gallery will showcase the work of Los Angeles-based painter Sheldon Figoten in a one-person exhibition of new paintings, “Light Fields,” opening Saturday, Oct. 28.
Oct. 28: Sheldon Figoten ‘Light Fields’ at COC Art Gallery
The Santa Clarita Artists Association held its 28th Annual Art Classic fine arts competition at William S. Hart Park's Hart Hall in Newhall on October 14.
Santa Clarita Artists Association Names Winners in 2017 Art Classic
Here is the Castaic-Val Verde Crime Information & Public Safety report from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station for September 25 through October 1.
Crime Blotter: Arson, Burglary, Theft in Castaic-Val Verde
California and New Mexico launched a fresh challenge Tuesday against the Trump administration’s repeal of higher royalty payments to states for oil, gas and coal leases on public lands.
California, New Mexico Challenge White House Favors to Oil, Gas, Coal
Here is the Stevenson Ranch (Zone 3) Crime Information & Public Safety report from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station for the week of October 2 to October 8.
Crime Blotter: Burglary, Petty Theft in Stevenson Ranch
Here is the Canyon Country East (Zone 8) Crime Information and Public Safety report from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station for September 24 through October 8, 2017.
Crime Blotter: Vehicle Theft, Burglary in Canyon Country East
1876 - Southern Pacific begins subdividing town of Newhall (original location at Bouquet Junction) [story]
CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP), the professional producing arm of California Institute of the Arts, opens Fantômas: Revenge of the Image at Wuzhen Theatre Festival in Wuzhen, China, on Oct. 19.
Oct. 19: CalArts’ Fantomas: Revenge of the Image Premieres in China
The CSUN women's golf team fired rounds of 306-309 and is in fourth place, just eight shots off the pace at the Pat Lesser Harbottle Seattle University Invitational at the Tacoma Country and Golf Club in Tacoma, WA.
CSUN Just Eight Shots Off Pace At Washington Invitational
Tonight on SCV NewsBreak, Recreation, Community Services, Arts and Open Spaces Director Rick Gould announces retirement. Plus, the Board of Supervisors approve mental health care improvements. Check out these stories and more tonight on SCV NewsBreak.
SCV NewsBreak for Tuesday, October 17, 2017
The Advanced Technology Presentation about "Careers in the Making...Design, Engineering, Fabrication and More..." in celebration of National Manufacturing Day was a huge success.
SCV Students Gain Knowledge, Advice at National Manufacturing Day
A local company is expanding its footprint in the Santa Clarita Valley to accommodate business growth and another is relocating a division of its company from Sylmar.
Accurate Freight Systems Expands, Leases Space at IAC Commerce Center