Air Pollution Management

The Sacramento region is designated as a severe ozone "non-attainment area" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). This non-attainment area includes all of Sacramento County and parts of El Dorado, Placer, Solano, Sutter and Yolo counties. During the summer, the region fails to meet both the state and federal health based standard for ozone.

Because the Sacramento Valley is shaped like a bowl, smog presents a critical problem in the summer, when an inversion layer traps pollutants close to the ground, causing unhealthy air quality levels. Vehicles and other mobile sources cause about 70 percent of this region's air pollution problem. The University is working to reduce its impact on local air pollution by providing incentives for students, faculty, and staff to use carpooling, public transit, and other forms of alternative transportation.

Ground-level ozone forms readily in the atmosphere during hot summer weather, but it is not emitted directly into the air. It is formed when Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) go through a photo-chemical reaction in the presence of sunlight. VOCs come from things that evaporate like gasoline, paint fumes, lighter fluid and consumer products. NOx is emitted from motor vehicles, power plants and other sources of combustion like gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.

Stationary air pollution sources from the Sacramento State campus are regulated by the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management Department. The severity of the smog situation in the Sacramento Valley is resulting in greater operating restrictions on campus facilities and equipment. The campus is currently in the process of replacing a number of larger boilers with more efficient units that will greatly reduce NOx emissions and meet new compliance requirements.