Healthy and Equitable Communities

See highlights of ongoing efforts towards environmental justice and health equity in the Air District’s climate and air quality planning work.

Air Pollution and Community Health

Learn about the public health effects of air pollution, which disproportionately impact low-income communities of color.

AB 617

The Air District’s Community Health Protection Program, implementing Assembly Bill 617, uses a community partnership model to collaborate with Bay Area communities most impacted by air pollution to develop and implement new strategies to reduce air pollution exposure and related health impacts.

Bay Area Healthy Homes Initiative

The Bay Area Healthy Homes Initiative, or BAHHI, is a program that seeks to improve health outcomes for the Contra Costa and Alameda County residents living in the areas most impacted by traffic air pollution. The program integrates multiple services that seek to reduce participants’ exposure to air pollution and other asthma triggers while also making homes more energy efficient.

Bay Area Regional Climate Action Planning Initiative

The Bay Area Regional Climate Action Planning Initiative, or BARCAP, is funded by the EPA’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grant Program to create a regional climate action plan for the northern and central Bay Area region. (The southern region is part of a separate planning effort.) The planning effort seeks to benefit frontline communities in the region. The Air District created a Frontline Communities Map to support this goal.

Featured Resources

View a few featured resources to support Bay Area local governments. Explore the full Local Government Support Program Resource Library for more.

  • Frontline Communities Map
    The Air District developed a mapping tool to help identify communities that are considered frontline communities for the purpose of the BARCAP CPRG planning effort. The map represents the results of different environmental justice screening tools from federal, state, regional, and local governments.
  • Community Grants Program
    The Community Grants Program provides funding for community-based projects in the areas most impacted by air pollution in our region.
  • Pioneering Air Pollution Policy Initiatives for Environmental Justice
    Selected policy recommendations and pioneering policy strategies appropriate for local governments to utilize in developing SB 1000 environmental justice general plan policies specifically addressing air pollution.

Identifying Communities with Disproportionate Air Quality Burdens

  • In 2004, the Air District embarked on the Community Air Risk Evaluation. or CARE, program to identify areas with high concentrations of air pollution and populations most vulnerable to those burdens, known as impacted communities. The CARE program informed a broad array of actions designed to foster healthy communities, such as focusing grants and incentives in impacted communities and setting priorities for toxic air contaminant reductions in new or modified regulations. CARE was also foundational to the identification of communities for the AB617 program. The CARE program supporting data were last updated around 2014, although they continue to provide a framework for assessing community exposure to air pollution and identifying areas that experience air pollution and health vulnerability.
  • In 2016, building on the CARE Program, the Air District created the Planning Healthy Places Guidebook designed to support and promote infill development. The interactive maps of localized air pollutant concentrations and associated adverse health impacts help local planners and policy makers consider the local effects of air pollution on new development, as well as the effect of existing and new sources of air pollution on existing communities.
  • In 2022, in response to community activism urging the Air District to address air quality impacts from permitting activities in communities overburdened by pollution and health vulnerabilities, the overburdened communities designation was adopted by the Board of Directors as part of amendments to Rule 2.1 and 2.5 to identify areas requiring more stringent cancer risk limits and public noticing requirements for projects located in overburdened communities. Staff utilized data from CalEnviroScreen 4.0 to identify census tracts in the Bay Area for this designation. See interactive map.
  • In 2023, a Frontline Communities Map was created to support climate protection work as part of the multi-county Climate Pollution Reduction Grant. The map compiles a variety of screening tools such as the U.S. EPA’s Climate and Environmental Justice Screening Tool, the Air District’s Overburdened Communities, and MTC’s equity priority communities. See interactive map

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Last Updated: 2024/2/22