FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, July 16, 2021


Angelica Estrada


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Clean Air Plan Aims to Reduce Cancer Risk for Portside Communities

San Diego Air Pollution Control District adopts ambitious plan to reduce cancer-causing pollution in San Diego’s portside communities.

SAN DIEGO, July 16, 2021 –  A newly reformed and more diverse SDAPCD board distinguished itself on Friday from its predecessors by approving an ambitious public health-centered Community Emission Reduction Plan (CERP). In addition to reducing air pollution, the newly approved plan establishes strategies to decrease the cancer risk for communities neighboring the Port of San Diego. These portside communities - Barrio Logan, Logan Heights, Sherman Heights, and West National City – are exposed to vastly disproportionate amounts of cancer-causing air toxins.

Portside community cancer risks are as follows:

  • According to EPA’s National Air Toxics Assessment, residents in the portside area have a higher risk of developing cancer from air toxins than 93% of the nation.
  • Portside communities are exposed to more diesel particulate matter pollution – which is known to cause cancer – than 95% of California.
  • Diesel pollution causes 84 percent of the cancer risk from air pollution in Barrio Logan and National City communities, according to the California Air Resources Board.

“Many families, including my own, have suffered both physically and financially from health complications due to the air pollution we breathe. My grandfather who lived in Barrio Logan the majority of his life passed away from lung cancer, and my mother has had to undergo two surgeries to address her respiratory problems,” said Maritza Garcia, a third-generation Barrio Logan resident. “The SDAPCD’s vote to approve the Community Emission Reduction Plan (CERP) shows that they are listening to the community and prioritizing our health. We deserve clean air just like everyone else.”

Currently, the San Diego APCD cancer risk reduction threshold is 100 per million, which - along with San Joaquin Valley - is the highest for the five large air districts in California. This means that in the San Diego region each permitted business can emit enough toxic air contaminants to put 100 people in a million at risk of developing cancer. The recently adopted CERP will work to reduce this risk down to 10 people per million people in portside communities by 2026. This is just one of 11 community health-centered goals in the plan.

“The new SD APCD board has shown great leadership and a deep commitment to environmental justice by voting to approve this aspirational CERP,” said Joy Williams, who represents the Environmental Health Coalition on the Portside Community Steering Committee, also known as the AB 617 Steering Committee. “The CERP addresses the community’s highest priorities to reduce health risks due to air pollution, such as diesel and other toxins, and increase trees and green spaces in their neighborhoods.”

The CERP includes goals to lower diesel pollution from 2018 levels by 2031 and transition medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks from diesel to 100% zero-emission vehicles five years ahead of the state requirements. Diesel pollution does not just cause cancer. It aggravates respiratory diseases like asthma and is associated with low-birth weight. Children in portside communities, like Logan Heights and National City, have more than double the rate of asthma emergency rooms visit than the county average, and triple the rate of La Jolla.

To read the entire CERP in English, click here.

To read the entire CERP in Spanish, click here.



Founded in 1980, Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) builds grassroots campaigns to confront the unjust consequences of toxic pollution, discriminatory land use, and climate change. Visit online at