Officials are one step closer to understanding the impact of cross-border air pollution. On Aug. 26, the first air monitor in a system of low-cost air-quality monitors made its debut in San Ysidro, CA — part of San Diego. The town is the most heavily-trafficked border crossing in the U.S., with more than 50,000 vehicles going through the area on a daily basis.

In total, 13 air monitors will be installed to help officials identify changes in air quality and direct necessary resources to assist communities plagued by pollution.

“Border communities are impacted by pollution sources from both sides of the California-Mexico border,” said California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) Secretary Matthew Rodriquez, at an unveiling ceremony. “This community-led project will improve our understanding of the pollution burdens faced by the residents of San Ysidro.”

The Fight to Combat Pollution on the Border Region

Funded by the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), the sensor project is a community-led effort. Data collected will be used in conjunction with CalEnviroScreen, a tool managed by the OEHHA.

A group of San Ysidro residents have been selected to receive training to maintain the air monitors and examine the results. The location of the monitors was selected by these residents, who will work with the CalEPA to find ways to reduce pollution in the area.

Ongoing Efforts to Measure Air Pollution in San Ysidro

The new air quality sensors aren’t the first attempt to measure the effect of pollution at the San Ysidro border. In February 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District installed a monitor at the San Ysidro Port of Entry that displays readings of the air’s level of fine particulate matter in real-time.

A total of $110,000 in funding was provided by the EPA for a two-year project to monitor air pollution in the border town. The tool was installed on the roof of the port’s pedestrian processing building, and at the time, was one of five active monitors sustained by the district for the real-time monitoring of fine particulates — PM 2.5.

Pollution from the area’s heavy traffic has long been a health concern for residents. Investments like the new air quality sensors and the monitor installed in 2015 can help identify subsequent health risks, so necessary precautions can be put in place.

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