Air Quality

Slight Worsening of Air Quality Over Past 10 Years

Poor air quality can aggravate the symptoms of heart and lung ailments, including asthma. It can also cause irritation and illness among the healthy population. Long-term exposure increases the risks of lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and many other health conditions. Poor air quality can also put children’s lung development at risk. This indicator uses the Air Quality Index (AQI) to measure air quality in San Bernardino County, neighboring California counties, and peer regions outside of California.

How is San Bernardino County Doing?

Over the past 10 years, there has been a slight worsening in the median air quality index value:

  • The median air quality index value has increased slightly from 10 years ago when the value was 82, compared to 88 in 2018. Both values are in the “moderate” range.
  • Most days (168, or 46% of days) were in the “moderate” range in 2018, more than 10 years ago when there were 158 days in the moderate range.
  • The second most common air quality status in 2018 was “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” which accounted for 96 days out of the year, up from 70 days 10 years ago.
  • One in seven days (51 days) were considered “unhealthy” in 2018, compared to one in six (63 days) in 2009.
  • Meanwhile, there were 43 days of “good” air in 2018, compared to 68 in 2009.
  • Compared to air quality in neighboring and peer regions, San Bernardino County had poorer median air quality in 2018 than all regions compared.

Breathmobiles Help Kids Breathe Easier

The Arrowhead Regional Medical Center operates two “Breathmobiles” – mobile health clinics specializing in the treatment and prevention of asthma symptoms in children. The Breathmobiles regularly visit approximately 40 locations countywide, including Head Start and school locations. They offer free of charge services, including lung function testing, asthma and allergy education, and prescriptions for medications. Outcomes have been striking. Among participants who were in the program one year or longer, emergency department visits were halved, hospitalizations were cut from 9% to 3% of participants, and school absenteeism due to asthma plummeted from 31% of participants before starting the program to 6% after.

Air Quality Index

San Bernardino County, 2009-2018
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Air Quality Index

Regional Comparison, 2018
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Note: The regions are sorted from top to bottom according the median air quality index value in each region, from highest to lowest. These data are based on hourly monitor data to assess air quality, resulting in more days of unhealthy air than data that is used by air quality management districts for regulatory compliance, which uses 24-hour monitor values. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Air Data (www.epa.gov/outdoor-air-quality-data)