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A local nonprofit is stepping up against air pollution in agricultural areas of Santa Barbara County

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Posted at 7:29 PM, Mar 20, 2022

Community Environmental Council is a local nonprofit that was awarded a $300,000 grant to monitor and share findings on air pollution in the Santa Maria Valley and Guadalupe areas.

CEC representatives say they received a lot of community support for this grant including the Guadalupe School District. The money will be used to build five air monitors that test for different air pollutants.

“Having these air monitors installed in Guadalupe and in surrounding areas will allow us to also monitor for wildfire smoke impacts and we will also do some monitoring for pesticide exposure," said CEC Director of Climate Mitigation, Cameron Gray.

As of now, there is only one air monitoring station in the area of Santa Maria.

“The problem is in terms of the accuracy of the data collection there’s really only one air monitor located in Santa Maria, so that’s the only air monitor collections data for the north county," said Dena Montague, a research associate at the Global Environmental Justice Project. "Santa Maria cannot pick up exactly what’s going on with good accuracy in Guadalupe.”

This is why these new air monitors will play a big role in collecting data for the Guadalupe area.

“This was personally from me walking around and having the same concern so that’s how I, at least, I know that other neighbors in Guadalupe are aware of air pollution. We are aware this is a problem," said Alhan Diaz-Correa, CEC Climate Justice Associate.

The nonprofit says the data collected will be shared with other organizations to better understand how pollutants can affect the health of those who live and work around the areas.

“Farmworkers out in the field for example during wildfire smoke events. Really being able to understand when those levels reach unsafe levels of air pollution and then being able to notify the agriculture operates and the farmworkers," said Gray.

 CEC representatives say the air monitors will be placed in community hubs including schools, parks, and a boys and girls club.