Air Monitoring

What's In the Air We Breathe

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California Air Resources Board (CARB) set Ambient Air Quality Standards (AAQS) for six common air pollutants, known as criteria pollutants. At the APCD, we monitor ambient concentrations of these pollutants across the county.

Ground-level Ozone

is created when nitrogen oxides (NOx) react

with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the presence of sunlight

Particulate Matter

is comprised of windblown dust and combustion particles

Nitrogen Dioxide

is a principal component of smog,

primarily emitted by the burning of fossil fuels

Carbon Monoxide

is created by the combustion of any fuel. It is of primary concern indoors,

where fuel-burning appliances and poor ventilation can lead to oxygen deprivation

Sulfur Dioxide

is the most common species of gases called sulfur oxides (SOx)

SOx emissions result from the burning of sulfur-containing materials, like fossil fuels

Lead Pollution

in the air has decreased by 99% nationally since 1980

Remaining sources include ore and metals processing, and piston-engine aircraft

Each year, our data is compiled into an Annual Air Quality Report for comparison against the State and National AAQS. These reports provide information on the measured air quality concentrations and trends in Santa Barbara County, as well as a summary of the AAQS and exceedances for the year. We also prepare an annual air monitoring network plan for the county, which includes a statement of purpose for each monitor, and displays compliance with federal regulations

Every five years, we prepare a five year network assessment of the air quality surveillance system in Santa Barbara County. Our most current Network Assessment, Network Plan, and Annual Air Quality Report are available in the Additional Resources section below.

Ambient Air Monitoring Network

Each monitoring station is sited to meet one or more objectives below. The network of all stations combined must meet all four objectives.

  • Determine representative concentrations of air pollution in highly populated areas
  • Determine the impact of specific businesses or other sources of pollution
  • Determine general background pollution levels in areas not directly affected by cars, businesses and other man-made pollution sources
  • Determine the highest pollution levels in the county. 
Types of Stations

Stations fall into two primary categories: SLAMS (State and Local Air Monitoring Stations) and Industrial stations. The location and category largely determine which pollutants are measured at each station. 

SLAMS measure urban and regional air quality. All five SLAMS are operated by the APCD (Lompoc, Santa Ynez, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, and Goleta). 

Seven Industrial stations are used to determine baseline air quality and the impacts of specific operations, such as oil and gas facilities. These stations are located in the immediate vicinity to measure specific pollutants emitted by the facility. While most Industrial stations are operated by the facility, Las Flores Canyon is currently operated by the APCD. Three Industrial stations are located to measure ozone in areas downwind from a facility. The ozone monitors at these three stations are classified as SLAMS monitors.