Trucks parked in front of a warehouse
September 23, 2021

UC Riverside receives $2 million to monitor air quality impacts of goods movement in Inland Southern California

The grant comes from the California Attorney General’s Office Automobile Emissions Research and Technology Fund

Author: Holly Ober
September 23, 2021

A UC Riverside project to study the air quality impacts of goods movement in Inland Southern California communities most affected by air pollution has received $2 million from the California Attorney General’s Office. 

The money comes from the Attorney General’s Automobile Emissions Research and Technology Fund, established in 2016 through a consent decree in People of the State of California v. Volkswagen AG. In that case, California sued Volkswagen for using “defeat devices” that made cars look like they produced far fewer emissions when tested than they really did. A portion of the settlement money was set aside to fund emissions-related research.

Diesel emissions from freight-related sources, especially heavy-duty diesel trucks, are concentrated in and around communities near freight hubs such as ports, railyards, and warehouses. Southern California’s Inland Empire, which consists of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, has quickly become a major logistics hub, with warehouses sprawling alongside mostly low-income Latino and Black communities throughout the region. These communities suffer disproportionate health burdens caused by air pollution, such as asthma and other respiratory difficulties.

The Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology, or CE-CERT, will lead this project, as part of its overall OMEGA Initiative: Objective Measurement/Monitoring/Mitigation of Emissions from Goods Movement and Impacts on Air Quality. This project will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the operations and impacts of goods movement in Inland Southern California in partnership with UC Berkeley and the Coalition for Clean Air.

“This research initiative is critical to our local community, as our region continues to grow,” said CE-CERT director Matthew Barth. “These funds help us kick off our multiyear OMEGA initiative, where we get to apply our latest research and technology to improve the environment we live in.”

CE-CERT and partners will monitor emissions from diesel truck fleets around various cargo hubs and monitor air quality in the surrounding communities, model air quality impacts of truck activities, and develop strategies such as innovative truck routing to mitigate the emissions and air quality impacts. 

The project brings together key researchers working on novel on-board emissions monitoring technology, innovative freight management strategies, and community air quality monitoring. To date, CE-CERT has been addressing these research areas somewhat separately; this project will integrate these research elements for even greater impact.

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