2017 AIR QUALITY SUMMARY

This annual report provides information on the air quality in Santa Barbara County for 2017.

In 2017, Santa Barbara County met the federal standards for all measured pollutants except ozone, particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10), and particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5). The 8-hour ozone standard of 0.070 parts per million (ppm) or 70 parts per billion (ppb) was exceeded on 2 days: September 2nd, and October 16th. The 24 hour daily PM10 standard of 150 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3) was exceeded on 9 days: January 8th, February 2nd, and 7 days in December during the Thomas Fire. The 24-hour PM2.5 standard of 35 µg/m3 was exceeded on 13 days, all during the Thomas Fire.

Santa Barbara County met the California state standards for all pollutants except ozone, PM10, and PM2.5. The state 1-hour ozone standard of 95 ppb was exceeded on 1 day: September 2nd. The state 8-hour ozone standard of 70 ppb was exceeded on 2 days: September 2nd, and October 16th. The California state 24-hour PM10 standard of 50 µg/m3 was exceeded on 49 days. The California state annual arithmetic mean PM10 standard of 20 µg/m3 was exceeded at all stations collecting PM10 data.

All other areas within Santa Barbara County were below the applicable state and federal air quality standards.

Detailed information about the ozone and particulate matter exceedances in Santa Barbara County can be found at: https://www.ourair.org/days-exceeding-ozone-and-particulate-standards-santa-barbara-county/.

National and State Ambient Air Quality Standards

The Federal Clean Air Act (CAA) (Title 1, Section 109) requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prescribe national primary ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for certain air pollutants where public health criteria (protecting sensitive populations such as individuals with compromised respiratory systems) have been established. These pollutant levels were chosen to protect the health of the most susceptible individuals in a population, including children, the elderly and those with chronic respiratory ailments. A secondary standard is also prescribed to protect human welfare (visibility, crop damage, building damage). These pollutants are known as criteria pollutants.

The EPA currently has NAAQS for six criteria pollutants: ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), lead (Pb), particulate matter under 10 microns in diameter (PM10) and fine particulate matter under 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5).

In addition to the EPA standards, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has set air quality standards for the same criteria pollutants and four others: sulfates, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), vinyl chloride (chloroethene, C2H3Cl), and visibility reducing particles.

Table 1 lists the Federal and California standards applicable in 2017.

Figure 1 shows the locations of all monitoring stations in Santa Barbara County operating in 2017.

Air Quality Monitoring Station Status for 2017

In 2017, there were 17 monitoring stations operating in Santa Barbara County. Fifteen stations measure ambient air & meteorological conditions, while two stations only measure meteorological conditions. Eight were operated by the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (APCD). The remaining stations were operated by the CARB, and private industry. The monitoring stations are divided into two categories: State and Local Air Monitoring Stations (SLAMS) and Industrial Monitoring Stations (IMS).   The SLAMS stations are designed to monitor the air in the urban areas of the county while the IMS stations are required by permit conditions in several facility permits to monitor for impacts to the air quality from the operation of these facilities. Table 2 lists the monitoring stations operating in Santa Barbara County during 2017 and the pollutants and parameters measured at each station. The PM monitoring at the Santa Barbara station was temporarily suspended from 2016 until August 2017 due to access safety concerns.

Criteria Gaseous Pollutant Summary

A summary of the highest pollutant values measured in Santa Barbara County during 2017 can be downloaded here (PDF file): Santa Barbara County 2017 Pollutant Summary. This summary contains tables of the following data:

  • The four highest 1-hour ozone concentrations measured during 2017.
  • The four highest 8-hour ozone concentrations measured during 2017.
  • The four highest 1-hour concentrations for NO2 for 2017.
  • The four highest 1-hour concentrations for SO2 for 2017.
  • The four highest 1-hour concentrations for CO for 2017.

Particulate Matter Monitoring

Seven stations collected PM10 data in 2017. The seven stations used a PM10 Beta Attenuation Monitor (BAM) sampler running 24 hours a day and calculating real time hourly values for ambient PM concentrations. Four stations collected PM2.5 data using a PM2.5 BAM, collecting continuous hourly data. The hourly concentrations are used to form daily 24 hour concentrations for comparison with the averaged standards.

A summary of the highest particulate matter values in Santa Barbara County during 2017 can be downloaded here (PDF file): Santa Barbara County 2017 Particulate Summary. This summary contains tables of the data listed below.

  • The two highest 24-hour PM10 (Local Temperature and Pressure) concentrations measured during 2017 and the annual 24-hour average.
  • The two highest 24-hour PM10 (Standard Temperature and Pressure) concentrations measured during 2017 and the annual 24-hour average.
  • The two highest 24-hour PM2.5 concentrations measured during 2017 and the annual 24-hour average.
  • The total number of days exceeding the standard

There were three stations in 2017 with measurements over the federal 24-hour PM10 standard of 150 µg/m3 with a combined total of 9 days over the standard. Seven of these days were due to the Thomas Fire. The highest 24-hour value of 399 µg/m3 was measured at Vandenberg Air Force Base, which was caused by windblown residual ash from the Canyon Fire.

All stations measured particulate levels over the California state 24-hour PM10 standard of 50 µg/m3 for at least one day during the year. The highest 24 hour value for 2017 (410 µg/m3) was recorded at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Six of seven stations also measured a PM10 level over the California state annual arithmetic mean standard of 20 µg/m3 for the year. The highest annual arithmetic mean was 46 µg/m3 in Santa Barbara, with the next highest station being Vandenberg Air Force Base with a value of 32 µg/m3. The mean for the Santa Barbara station is especially high because measurements only began the last week of August, so the poor air quality from the Thomas Fire is being averaged into four months of data rather than a full year.

The Santa Barbara station also exceeded the federal and state annual arithmetic mean standard of 12 µg/m3 for PM2.5 with a value of 18 µg/m3. The federal 24-hour standard of 35 µg/m3 was exceeded on 12 days, all during the Thomas Fire.

New in 2017

EPA changes to the NAAQS:

No changes to the NAAQS occurred in 2017.

Monitoring station changes in 2017:

The Santa Barbara monitoring station began measuring PM10 and PM2.5 on August 22, 2017. The Venoco Ellwood Odor monitoring station has been removed from operation.