It’s not breaking news that air pollution impacts low-income neighborhoods and communities of color disproportionately. Mission Local wrote eight years ago that the Mission had the worst air quality, and the highest overall negative health indicators in San Francisco.
The latest data indicates a similar result: Communities of color are exposed to 55 percent more nitrogen dioxide than white communities, according to Aclima, a company that measured the region’s air quality, block-by-block.
The map shows that the Mission District is one of the city’s neighborhoods with more people of color, poverty, renters — and higher pollutant levels, especially nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide.
“San Francisco families suffer from poor air quality near freeways, such as 101 and 280,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safaí. At a Tuesday press conference in advance of the fifth annual California Clean Air Day on Oct. 5, he noted that this is not only an environmental issue, but also a public health issue.
Along with speakers including Department of the Environment director Tyrone Jue, Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and Brian Sheridan from Coalition for Clean Air, Safaí outlined small, everyday steps San Franciscans can take to reduce this city’s air pollution.
Nancypili Hernandez from the Latino Task Force said the access to fresh air is vital to Latinx communities, as many Latinx tenants live in close quarters and high-density buildings. To combat the effects, the Latino Task Force promotes family gardening and biking.
A gardening event hosted by the Latino Task Force and Excelsior Strong will be held at 4834 Mission St. near Onondaga Street, starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
And on Thursday, the group is collaborating with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, to teach kids to bike. Five bicycles for children under eight years old will be given out through a raffle.
This is the first time the Latino Task Force has participated in California Clean Air Day, as it was preoccupied with responding to Covid-19 last year.
In December, 2021, Mayor London Breed announced the 2040 net-zero emission goal for the city, which means reducing emissions 90 percent below 1990 levels and absorbing the other 10 percent through natural solutions, like trees and green spaces. In 2019, the city’s carbon footprint was reduced by 41 percent from 1990 levels.
Jue noted that the two biggest sources of emissions are buildings and transportation. Natural gas, diesel and gasoline are all fossil fuels.
Individual actions include taking more public transportation, bringing a lunch to work, planting a home garden, and switching to a cleaner non-wood burning stove. The full video is available here.
“Try to educate yourself, try to think about the small things that you can do. That will really make a difference here in our city in the Bay Area,” said Safaí.