L.A. County hits 3 week streak in ‘good quality’ air as stay-at-home order lessens countywide traffic

Few cars occupy the Arroyo Seco Parkway toward downtown Los Angeles during rush hour, Thursday, April 2, 2020, in Los Angeles, during the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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UPDATED 7:26 AM PT — Monday, April 6, 2020

Many Angelenos are getting a breath of fresh air as Los Angeles seems to be losing its infamous smog.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District recently reported a three-week streak of good quality air across the county. Officials inside the South Coast AQMD have said this could be related to the countywide ‘safer-at-home’ order, which is meant to complement California’s ‘stay-at-home’ orders.

“And people are asking, is that due to the fact that people are aren’t driving as much, they’re staying at home?” said Philip Fine, Deputy Executive Director for the South Coast AQMD. “And some of the other activity, human activities that cause emissions, have been diminished and we’ve been looking at that.”

The countywide order came two-days after California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) issued the state-wide ‘stay-at-home’ order on March 19. South Coast AQMD officials believe this has slowed down freeway traffic. They estimated that car traffic is down by one-third and truck traffic is down by around 20 percent.

However, officials aren’t fully convinced the air quality is directly related to the decrease in traffic. They also cited recent cool and wet weather, which they believe may also be influencing air quality.

“And under those conditions, those are the days where we typically see very good air quality days,” Fine explained. “So it’s been very hard to tease out the different impacts of perhaps the reduced emissions that we expect to see under these conditions and the weather, the impact of the weather.”

Meanwhile, the L.A. County safer-at-home order is expected to end April 19, but officials are predicting it could be extended to May. Clean air advocates hope once the order is lifted, Angelenos will continue to work remotely and be cautious about taking long distance trips.

Light traffic is seen on California 110 with the city skyline in the background Thursday, April 2, 2020, in Los Angeles. California is in its second week of a statewide lockdown, where schools and nonessential businesses are closed and the governor has ordered people to stay home. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

“Even though it is also important to see people face to face, maybe we won’t have to take as many car and plane trips in order to have those conversations,” said Bill Magavern, Policy Director for the advocacy group Coalition for Clean Air.

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