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UC Davis Study: Pollution From Asia Coming Across Pacific To California

DAVIS (CBS13) — A new, long-term study out of UC Davis shows at least some of the pollution in California comes from across the Pacific Ocean.

Researchers say they have no doubt that pollution from Asia is hitting California.

With severe asthma, Katie Valenzuela Garcia of Breathe California knows how important air quality is.

"I watch the news every morning to determine if I'm going to be able to run outside, if I'm going to run inside or go some place else," she said.

And while she and others in the state and nation are taking steps to reduce ozone emissions, it's becoming clear it's not just a California problem.

Professor Ian Faloona with UC Davis is behind a landmark research project that indicates what some thought was not possible—that heavily polluted areas of Asia are contributing to our air quality.

"We definitely think some of it is coming from Asia," he said. "You look at all these kind of measurements to try to fingerprint where that ozone came from."

Faloona and his colleagues set up sensors on a mountain top off of the BIg Sur coast. The air should be very clean, but they found that wasn't always the case.

"We know that this flow that is coming in from off-shore is definitely influencing the air above the Central Valley," he said.

In other words, the dangerous gas is blowing in from across the Pacific and into our area—specifically the southern San Joaquin Valley. He says his research team is not quite prepared to say for sure how much yet.

"You're bringing these ideas together that it's a global problem," he said.

Faloona notes that his research doesn't mean Californians shouldn't still be trying to cut emissions. Places like Los Angeles have seen huge improvements in their air quality over the past decades.

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