Want to breathe easy? You may want to avoid Echo Park and Lincoln Heights based on this air pollution study

Lincoln Heights had the third dirtiest air in LA county, according to a USC study

A study that compared air pollution in different communities  determined that Lincoln Heights and Echo Park had some of the dirtiest air in the county while Eagle Rock and Montecito Heights had some of the cleanest, according to researchers at USC.

The most widely available information on air quality usually reflect large swaths of the region. In contrast, the USC study pinpoints estimated pollution levels in 251 communities and neighborhoods by using artificial intelligence, regional air quality readings and information about local geography.

Researchers with Crosstown, a joint project by several departments at USC, based their results of neighborhood air quality in part by looking at hourly readings of microscopic particulate matter, which is found in the exhaust of motor vehicles and emissions from power plants. These tiny bits of soon can be inhaled through the nose and are associated with health problems.  For the USC study, a years worth of readings of the particulate matter known PM2.5 were taken between November 2016 and October 2017.

The study then looked at how many times levels of PM2.5 rose into an unhealthy range for asthma sufferers, the elderly and others who are sensitive to poor air quality. Those results were then taken into account  when Crosstown created its neighborhood air quality index and rankings of 251 neighborhoods.  Based on those rankings, Chinatown had the highest risk of unhealthy air while Altadena had the lowest.

You can find the rankings for all 251 communities here. The rankings for Eastside communities are found below, ranked from the worst air quality to the best:

Why is the air so bad in Lincoln Heights, Echo Park and Elysian Park?

A summary of the study noted that Lincoln Heights, located next to the 5 Freeway,  “is ringed by hills, which can trap pollution.”

Echo Park, which is located between the 5 and 101 Freeways,  “gets a lot of traffic on its city streets from people traveling to and from Downtown” while Elysian Park sits at the junction of the 5 and 10 freeways, said the summary

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  1. Thank you so much for sharing this study. I wish Elysian Valley had been included, as – like Lincoln Park – it is also ringed by hills, surrounded by freeways and home to Metrolink’s Central Maintenance Facility (CMF) which has been dispersing diesel particulate matter (DPM), NOX, and respirable silica among other air pollutants to our neighborhoods since 1992 when it illegally built its facility in Cypress Park with no CEQA. We are working to inform our communities and effect positive change via LA River Communities for Environmental Equity (larcee.org).

  2. thanks–lived there before all the changes–20yrs.–knew and had to dust every hour, or, so. lol. take care, ya’ll.

  3. I live in echo park with a one-year old so I was very concerned about this article. I purchased an ECOWITT WH0290 air quality monitor and have been watching it for about a month now. The results are a lot more positive than this article would suggest (at least for my specific location: Laveta Terrace & W. Kensington). The average PM2.5 reading is around 20 and it very rarely exceeds 50. In the evenings and early morning it can be less than 10. The all-time high I saw was 61. For context, anything below 50 is considered very good.

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