Q&A with Alberto Ayala, Director of Sacramento’s Air Quality District, SacTown Magazine, June 4, 2022

Alberto Ayala discusses “the growing threat of wildfire smoke, the urgent need to move away from fossil fuel engines, the “scary” results from a new study about the impact of air pollution on our brain health, and why we need to rethink transportation as we plan for a better post-pandemic world.”

On transportation:

“I wrote an essay five years ago, in which I pointed out that of the 40 biggest cities in the country, Sacramento and Las Vegas were the only two without any protected bike lanes and with no imminent plans to build them, whereas cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago were racing to build hundreds of miles of protected bike lanes. And now five years later, we’re not much better off. And for reasons I don’t completely understand, the city just has not made that a priority when clearly, active transportation like biking and walking is going to be one of the ways that we move toward cleaner air. . . [and] where is the investment in transit? And how are we helping our public transit be the innovative transit of the future where you actually meet the needs of transportation for people?”

On the difference between ozone pollution and particle pollution:

“In Sacramento, like most urban regions, the most chronically difficult pollution problem is ozone pollution, not so much particle pollution, but clearly wildfires are changing that. Particle pollution is the smoke that you see from something like a wildfire, or the soot that comes out of a diesel truck. That black smoke is essentially a collection of these particles that come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Ozone pollution, in contrast, is the result of nitrogen oxide and volatile organic emissions often from the combustion of fossil fuels—fuel that burns in an internal combustion engine like in a gasoline car. In the presence of sunlight, they basically cook up in the atmosphere, and then they lead to ozone, also known as smog. So the difference is here we’re talking about gases, not particles.”

Click here to read the full article.

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