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Reasons Why Homes Near Freeways in L.A. Need Home Air Filters

By October 14, 2019 May 4th, 2020 No Comments
10 minutes to read

Learn about the air pollution situation in L.A. and why homes near freeways experience poor indoor air quality without the protection of home air filters.

For years, the Los Angeles City Council has sent health advisories to housing developers, warning them about the health risks of building real estate developments near freeways. Unfortunately, some of these warnings went unheeded, which is why many homeowners living near freeways have had no choice but to turn to alternative air filtration solutions to maintain safe and breathable indoor air. 

But when the city government tried to shift its focus to warning residents instead, some officials rejected the move.

In 2015, city planning commissioners rejected an environmental ordinance requiring the installation of warning signs for new multifamily developments constructed near high traffic areas. The signs would have warned about the dangers of air pollution created by nearby vehicles. Why was the ordinance rejected? The commissioners felt it would have placed too high a burden on real estate developers and hurt the local housing market.  

Los Angeles’s History of Poor Outdoor and Indoor Air Quality

The move was concerning, given L.A.’s long history of struggling to control the high volume of cars in the city. And, as almost anyone knows, cars are a major producer of airborne pollutants, hence the city’s outdoor and indoor air quality issues.  

Internal combustion engines can be a source of indoor air pollution in offices, schools, hospitals, hotels, shopping centers, and retail stores, especially where garages are attached,” explains Steve Smith, CamCleaner & Portable Air Cleaner Segment Manager at Camfil USA. “In large cities with a high number of vehicles present, the ambient air normally contains a high number of particles and various gas or molecular contaminants.”

“Efficient particle filtration of submicron and ultrafine particles as well as molecular filtration of the air coming into the building can reduce this contamination significantly,” he adds. “The challenge is evaluating the air handling systems to determine whether  they are capable of utilizing air filters able to accomplish this. If the air handling system is not capable, than portable air cleaners may be a consideration. ” 

Why Understanding Air Filters and Air Purification Systems Has Never Been More Important in L.A.

Critics of the decision said that it was proof city officials are reluctant to do anything that will discourage homebuilding, even if it means taking action to protect public health. The move, which could have helped disincentivize building near freeways, is just one of many examples of L.A. and other cities in California flouting state air quality guidelines on building near freeways. . 

Furthermore, since 2005, state air quality officials have repeatedly advised city governments to avoid building dwellings within 500 feet of roads with heavy traffic. Since then, the body of literature linking air pollution generated by vehicle traffic to health problems like asthma, cardiac arrest, cancer, and preterm births among others has only grown. 

The result is affected home and building owners have no choice but to seek out experts in air filtration and air purification systems to protect themselves. The solution could be simply installing a better filter in your existing air handling system. Based upon the configuration of your building’s equipment, you may need to consider a stand alone air purification system.  

How Air Filters Are Helping Turn the Tide in Los Angeles

In 2017, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered building inspectors to assess whether suitable air filters  are being installed in buildings and homes near freeways. Personnel from the Department of Building Safety were assigned to ensure dwellings had the appropriate type of air filters, to better protect residents from air pollution from cars and trucks.

The city also enhanced its building inspection systems, which now help staff stay abreast of current air filtration standards and keep track of filter installation information. This change was after the Department of Building Safety reported that it did not have procedures for monitoring whether new developments near freeways were complying with the enhanced air filter installation requirements.

It’s not quite what critics of the 2015 decision had in mind, but nevertheless,  it’s a welcome development after the City Council acknowledged the health risks of residential development near traffic pollution hotspots.

A Future Where Clean Air is Demanded by All.

Reports, such as the 2016 State of the Air (SOTA) by the American Lung Association (ALA), point out that Los Angeles continues to have some of the worst levels for particle pollution and ozone pollution in the country, respectively taking the fourth and first spot.  What most people don’t know is that in recent years, Los Angeles has actually done a better job of improving its ambient air quality. 

Much of the city’s success can be attributed to California’s strict adherence to the provisions of the Clean Air Act, which was supported by the state’s own initiatives to improve ambient air quality. Los Angeles, on the other hand, has implemented additional anti-air pollution measures such as:

    • Rideshare incentives for employers
    • Improving public transport
    • Promoting electric vehicles
    • Land-use restrictions for polluted neighborhoods

How to Choose air filters and Home Air Purification Systems

When shopping for air filters or home air purification systems, it’s important to base your purchase decision on the type  of contaminants you are dealing with, the size of the rooms being “treated,” and the level of air quality you desire. You should factor in any known health issues of those living in the building as well.  For example, asthma sufferers report an improved quality of life with when able to spend more time in buildings with improved indoor air quality.  

An air filter manufacturer will be in the best position to help buyers make an informed decision. At Camfil USA, we understand our customers’ concerns about outdoor and indoor air quality, which is why we are committed to providing the best home air filters for their needs. Get in touch with our team or explore our product line.


Media Contact:


Lynne Laake 

Camfil USA Air Filters 

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