San Ysidro: Air Quality and Border Traffic Study

Statement of Purpose

This two-year project, funded by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), has the primary objective of understanding the air pollution health risks faced by communities. San Ysidro as a border community located at the California/ Baja California border may face risks that are not felt by other California communities. Being close to the international border may result in exposure to pollution from lines of idling vehicles at the Ports of Entry, trade-related commercial trucks, and transport of pollutants from Mexico. Existing monitors may not be adequate to measure this impact. We will deploy a network of low-cost sensors in San Ysidro in order to:

  1. Measure how air pollution changes over time and space.
  2. Identify areas of San Ysidro that are highly affected.

The information collected will be used to identify the sources and levels of air pollution with the goal of developing mitigation strategies that might reduce exposure in the community. Regular meetings between the project group and the community will ensure that community concerns are well understood and being addressed. This will be a 2-year project, and funding is provided by the State of California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.


Project Roles

Project Partners including: UW, SDSU, Casa Familiar, OEHHA, Technical Advisory Group, Community Steering Committee Community Partners, including Casa Familiar, will inform the main goals and objectives of this study. In addition, the community will collaborate with scientists in selecting the location of the 12 monitoring sites. Community partners will be key in disseminating results of the study, identifying mitigation strategies and leading future efforts to reduce air pollution impact in the San Ysidro area.

Scientists from the University of Washington and San Diego State University will provide both equipment and technical guidance to maximize the quality of data collected. Type of pollutants measured, location of the monitors and analysis methods will be selected to best address the concerns raised by community partners. The scientists will oversee data collection and analysis. 


Project Outcomes

Project results will be shared with community partners on an ongoing basis through meetings and a dedicated website. We expect that our results will increase the community understanding of the geographic differences in the community with traffic pollutants, origins of pollutants and potential hazards to the community. Additionally, we hope to increase community knowledge and empowerment and provide guidance on future solutions. 



Webinar (December 2016)

Earlier this month USEPA hosted a webinar with the purpose of sharing details about the OEHHA funded two-year San Ysidro Study. The study is a collaborative effort between government, academia, and community residents to establish a network of low-cost "next generation" air monitors in San Ysidro. Community residents are guiding and leading the study with support from academia and government. Data provided by the network of monitors will be able to capture neighborhood scale pollution impacts, inform future efforts to reduce impacts, and provide air pollution data on the border region for California's environmental screening tool, CalEnviroScreen.

Community Meetings

Previous communtiy meeting: Tuesday, March 23rd 2016 at 5:30 PM. 


Research Team Contact Information

IN ENGLISH:                                       

Edmund Seto, PhD
Picture of Edmund Seto
Principal Investigator
University of Washington 
Penelope (Jenny) Quintana, PhD, MPH 
Picture of Jenny Quintana
San Diego State University
Picture of Elena AustinElena Austin, ScD
Research Scientist
University of Washington


Zohir Chowdhury, PhD
San Diego State University
David Flores, B.Arch.
Picture of David Flores
Development Director
Casa Familiar
Vanessa Galaviz, PhD, MPH
Picture of Vanessa Galaviz
Project Representative, 
State of California OEHHA 

Twitter Presence 



Media Coverage

January 2017: Program Focuses On Tracking Air Pollution At US-Mexico Border. KPBS Public Broadcasting. 

April 2016: Two-year project will study air pollution in San Ysidro from cars idling at the border. Los Angeles Times.

April 2016: Nonprofit to study air quality in San Ysidro. San Diego Union Tribune.