Mar Vista Neighborhood More Polluted Than Downtown

UCLA study also discovered that there was a drop in pollution in West LA between 2008 and 2011, which researchers attribute to the area's affluence.

By Samia Khan and Ted Chen
|  Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013  |  Updated 8:17 AM PDT
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A new UCLA study shows how transit systems affect air pollution levels in parts of Los Angeles. Ted Chen reports from Boyle Heights for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013.

Ted Chen

A new UCLA study shows how transit systems affect air pollution levels in parts of Los Angeles. Ted Chen reports from Boyle Heights for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013.

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The results of a new study by the UCLA Center for Clean Air may surprise you. 

It turns out, air in one Westside neighborhood is more polluted than the air in downtown LA.
 
The study compared the air of four neighborhoods – downtown, Boyle Heights, Mar Vista, and West LA – and discovered that air in the Westdale neighborhood of Mar Vista had the highest concentration of ultrafine particles, which are fossil fuel emissions that eventually turn into smog. Mar Vista is located just east of the Santa Monica Airport.
 
 

UCLA professor Suzanne Paulson, who was head of the study, said that aircraft emissions make pollution in Mar Vista worse than an area like Boyle Heights.
 
"Aircraft, when they're idling and taking off, consume a large amount of fuel, so they have very large bursts of pollution," Paulson said.

Rather than measure smog or ozone, researchers used an emissions-free electric vehicle to measure real-time air pollutant concentrations.
"There's a growing body of data that indicates that the more of these fresh emissions that you're exposed to, the more likely you are to suffer a variety of adverse health outcomes," Paulson said.

Exposure to these pollutants have been linked to an increase in asthma, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and low birth weight, the research noted.

 
The research discovered that of the four neighborhoods, air in West LA was the cleanest. Researchers also noticed that there was a drop in the concentration of ultrafine particles in West LA between 2008 and 2011.

Wonsik Choi, a postgraduate researcher in Paulson's lab, attributes this discovery to the area’s wealth.

"Affluent West Los Angeles experiences rapid turnover of the vehicle fleet, resulting in a higher proportion of newer vehicles with cleaner engines and better fuel efficiency," Choi said.

Of the neighborhoods studied, the highest concentration of ultrafine particles were found in Mar Vista, followed by Boyle Heights, Downtown LA, and then West LA.

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