Being downwind of Central Valley California’s notoriously dirty air is enough cause for concern, but when you’ve got 70,000 vehicles including 18,000 trucks passing through on the freeway every day, it’s enough 

Hold your breath....

to make you choke!  That’s why a determined community group, the Tri-County Watchdogs, has begun testing the air themselves – to find out what they are breathing and to do something about it.

The Watchdogs secured a grant from the Rose Foundation to work with GCM to monitor the particulate pollution and diesel soot that blows into their communities, schools and homes.

And on Saturday, a team of folks “hung” the first air monitor along a stretch of I-5 near the Fort Tejon Middle School to start the testing. The group and several school board members have been lobbying officials at the school to allow the monitor to be placed on the school grounds, so that teachers, parents and children can get a realistic picture of what they are breathing.  While the Board has not yet agreed to have the monitor placed at the school, the Watchdogs have found a nearby alternative location to start the monitoring as they continue to provide more information to the officials about the project to protect public health.

In the meantime, over the next year twenty-four hour samples of air around the freeway, truck stops, industrial facilities will be collected and test for a variety of toxic pollutants and particles.

Stay tuned for updates from the Airhuggers for what will be a bell weather project for the Central Valley of California. Empowered communities monitoring for themselves the air they breathe – what a concept!