University Times

Something’s in the Air

Google is collecting pollution data and Boyle Heights does not look good.

Malerie Wilkins, Staff Reporter

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Google focuses on collecting data with their Street Car View to identify which areas in busiest cities in California are most polluted and Boyle Heights classified as a “toxic hotspot.”

If you live in Southern California, then you probably have seen the Google Street View car with the camera placed on the top of the car, because it’s not very hard to miss.

The Google Street View car is not just taking pictures for Google Maps, it has now become a useful tool for scientists to study environmental issues like air pollution.

Back in 2016, Google partnered with Aclima, a data startup company that builds environmental sensors. According to Fast Company Design, Google equipped two of their Street View Cars with this technology. The Street View cars drove 100,000 miles and more than 4,000 hours through the streets of California collecting more than 1 billion hyperlocal air pollution data points, all of which are available upon request to scientists and researchers. For both companies, the project is a way of showing what their equipment can do while providing a service for the communities.

Jes Buenrostro, an Art major at Cal State LA, shared her thoughts on the topic:

“LA is notorious for air pollution and smoggy days, it is interesting to see what Google and scientists will do to move forward to better the situation and hopefully make our air a little bit cleaner.”

Google focused on three of the busiest areas in California: the San Francisco Bay Area, the Los Angeles metro area and the Central Valley. The data gathered mapped the level of air quality on the streets based on a color-coded scale. The highest focus of pollution in all three of the areas is along major freeways and streets.

Boyle Heights has been classified as a “toxic hotspot” and children living there have higher than usual rates of hospitalization for asthma. Boyle Heights’ 90033 ZIP code had an Asthma hospitalization rate of 137.7 per 100,000 people in 2009, compared with a statewide rate of 86.2, according to the state hospitalization data.

Jorge Villanueva, an organizer for the East Los Angeles Community Corporation (ELACC) said, “Every day more residents in Boyle Heights are being affected negatively due to the unsafe environmental conditions.”

Four schools in Boyle Heights, including Soto Street and Sunrise Elementary Schools, have installed new air filters as part of a pilot study implemented by the South Coast Air Quality Management District to reduce community exposure and related illnesses.

Eithan, a Boyle Heights resident, reflected on the issue:

“It’s really a critical situation for Los Angeles. The streets of Boyle Heights have long been known for their dangers. In the past, this was due to gang violence and crime. But today, a less visible danger can cause serious adverse effects on health: air pollution.”

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About the Contributors
J. Aaron Delgado, Managing Editor
From protests to San Diego Comic Con, J. Aaron has covered a multitude of subjects but has a keen eye for Arts & Entertainment. When he is not covering events he is mainly studying as a Psychology major, photographing different aspects of life, working in film production, or enjoying everything the world has to offer....
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