New rule targets pollution 

Cancer and asthma rates could fall because of a new regulation that reduces the amount of pollution that new factories, gas stations and other Bay Area facilities are allowed to spew into the air.

The regulation, adopted last week, reduces the amount of fumes and soot that can be released into the air by proposed new industrial facilities, gas stations, diesel power generators and other sources of pollution.

To comply with the new rule, some proposed projects will need to invest in advanced air pollution control equipment, according to Bay Area Air Quality Management District engineering director Brian Bateman.

Some projects will need to have their size reduced in order to comply and secure operating permits.

“These changes are significant,” Bateman said. “We do think that the technology that’s out there to control emissions has improved the point that most of the projects will be able to comply.”

Air District board member Chris Daly, who described the new regulations as a “step in the right direction,” was among the board members who directed staff to pursue more stringent rules for the six Bay Area communities that suffer the highest air pollution and disease rates.

San Francisco’s industrialized eastern flank is home to one of those communities.

A recommendation by air district staff that would have permitted less air pollution in those communities than in other parts of the Bay Area was removed from documents prior to last week’s vote.

Industrial companies warned that such a rule could take a heavy economic toll.

Bateman said the California EPA is expected to update its required methods for analyzing health risks from air pollution.

“If those new methods are applied, it will increase the stringency of the [new BAAQMD] rule by at least what our original goal was,” Bateman said. “It’ll be uniform throughout the district.”

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