Air Pollution Data: Paramount, CA and Hex Chrome from Metal Processing
Hexavalent chromium, also known as hex chrome, is released into the air by the numerous metalworking companies located in Southern California’s low-income communities of color. Hex chrome is known to cause both cancer and birth defects. In the City of Paramount (Los Angeles), residents have been concerned about pollution for years, and began asking for government action in 2012. When the local air quality agency finally responded to these concerns in 2016 and measured hex chrome in Paramount air, it found levels that were up to 350 times what is typical in the Los Angeles area. Since then, the air quality agency has required the companies to reduce the pollution, and they have – but problems persist. Air monitoring data collected by the government air quality agency shows that levels of hex chrome around these facilities still regularly exceed levels deemed safe in the State of California.
In December 2016, CEH sued three companies in Paramount owned by Precision Castparts Auto Corporation. As a result of our lawsuit, the companies are required to perform additional air monitoring when they continue to pollute. Additionally, as a result of resident participation and guidance, community designated funds from the lawsuit are being used to purchase more than 40 air filtration systems and replacement filters for homes nearest to these polluters.
In response to community need for more understandable air monitoring data, where residents could type in their address and look at recent hex chrome levels nearby their homes, schools, and jobs, CEH created a tool that makes it easy for Paramount residents to use and understand the hex chrome pollution data available. The better people are able to understand the issue, the more able people are to pressure the agencies responsible for toxic enforcement to better do their jobs and protect their health.
We believe it’s everyone’s right to know what is in the air they breathe, and we hope you find the tool helpful. It’s our hope that all data collected by agencies such as this one can be made more widely accessible and read-able to the people who most benefit from understanding it.
Información en Español
Las compañías metalúrgicas que son fuentes de contaminación por cromo hexavalente son numerosas en las comunidades de color de bajos ingresos del sur de California. Se sabe que el ‘hex chrome’, como suele abreviarse, causa cáncer y problemas reproductivos.
En la ciudad de Paramount (condado de Los Ángeles), los residentes han estado preocupados por la contaminación por años y comenzaron a solicitar acciones gubernamentales en 2012. Cuando la agencia de calidad del aire local finalmente respondió a estas inquietudes en 2016 y analizó el hex chrome en el aire de Paramount, encontró niveles que eran hasta 350 veces más alto a los que son típicos en el área de LA. Desde entonces, la agencia de calidad del aire ha exigido a las empresas que reduzcan la contaminación, pero los problemas continuan.
CEH demandó a las compañías contaminantes en Paramount y ahora tiene un acuerdo legal con tres de ellas, las que son propiedad de Precision Castparts Auto (Carlton Forge Works, Aerocraft Heat Treating Company, y Press Forge). El acuerdo legal requiere monitoreo aéreo adicional cuando las compañias continúan contaminando.