Air quality at the Port of Los Angeles improved at the same time cargo movement increased over a recent six-year period, according to data released by the port Thursday.
The data showed diesel particulate matter, which can cause lung cancer and other respiratory problems, was down 71 percent from 2005 to 2011. Levels of asthma-causing nitrogen oxides associated with the port were down 51 percent over the same period according to the data. The 2011 levels of diesel particulate matter and nitrogen oxides put the Port three years ahead of a 2014 target to reduce the two key pollutants, according to the report.
Total greenhouse gas emissions -- from carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide -- attributable to the Port of Los Angeles decreased 19 percent.
The reductions came as overall port container traffic increased 6 percent from 2005-2011.
The 2011 Inventory of Air Emissions, prepared by Starcrest Consulting Group, measured emissions from cargo ships, trucks, trains and port yard equipment.
Port officials credited the air pollution reductions to the 2006 Clean Air Action Plan enacted jointly with the Port of Long Beach. The plan, which was updated in 2010, includes a program to reduce the speed of cargo ships within 24 miles of the port and requirements for the ships to use fuel with lower levels of sulfur. It also includes the Clean Truck Program, which banned all pre-1993 trucks from entering the port and required all trucks to have 2007 or newer engine. The port is also retrofitting or replacing its own boats and cargo-handling equipment.
"By developing and executing our Clean Air Action Plan and fine-tuning our pollution reduction strategies on a regular basis, we are cutting harmful air emissions from ships, trains, trucks, harbor craft and cargo-handling equipment while operating a prosperous, world-class seaport," Port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said in a statement. "Our customers and industry stakeholders, which run the operations that keep the cargo moving through Los Angeles, also play a substantial role in this positive trend through their investments in cleaner equipment and more sustainable practices."
The 2011 report showed the port's overall contribution to air pollution in the Southern California Air Basin shrank. In 2005, the port contributed 10 percent of the region's diesel particulate matter. That shrank to 3 percent in 2011.