Spatial variations of particulate matter and air toxics in communities adjacent to the Port of Oakland

13 November 2019

Fujita, E.M., Campbell, D.E., Arnott, W.P., Lau, V., Martien, P.T.

Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 2013, 63(12), 1399-1411

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) sponsored the West Oakland Monitoring Study (WOMS) to provide supplemental air quality monitoring that will be used by the BAAQMD to evaluate local-scale dispersion modeling of diesel emissions and other toxic air contaminants for the area within and around the Port of Oakland. The WOMS was conducted during two seasonal periods of 4 weeks in summer 2009 and winter 2009/2010. Monitoring data showed spatial patterns of pollutant concentrations that were generally consistent with proximity to vehicle traffic. Concentrations of directly emitted pollutants were highest on heavily traveled roads with consistently lower concentrations away from the roadways. Pollutants that have higher emission rates from diesel trucks (nitric oxide, black carbon) tended to exhibit sharper gradients than pollutants that are largely associated with gasoline vehicles, such as carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX). BTEX concentrations in West Oakland were similar to those measured at the three air toxics monitoring network sites in the Bay Area (San Francisco, Fremont, and San Jose). Aldehyde levels were higher in Fremont and San Jose than in West Oakland, reflecting greater contributions from photo-oxidation of hydrocarbons downwind of the Bay Area. A 2005 modeling-based health risk assessment of diesel particulate matter concentrations is consistent with aerosol carbon concentrations measured during the WOMS after adjusting for recent mitigation measures and improved estimates of heavy-duty truck traffic volumes.


The WOMS taken in combination with other recent studies indicates that focused grant–funded diesel reduction projects, new regulatory requirements, and focused enforcement near the Port of Oakland have been effective. However, the study also showed higher pollutant concentrations along major roadways in West Oakland, especially in areas with high traffic volumes of diesel trucks.