Daniel Weintraub, editor of the California Health Report, compared the census zip codes 92707 (Santa Ana) and 92657 (Newport Beach) on the online state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment tool and found stark contrasts. Despite those places being relatively close to each other, one is among the cleanest in California, the other is one of the dirtiest.
Can you guess which is which?
As Weintraub points out, the southeast corner of Santa Ana is locked in by two traffic-choked freeways, and the neighborhood air is dirtied with diesel emissions and other pollutants. Nearby businesses release an unusually large amount of chemicals. The community has more hazardous waste clean-up sites than almost anyplace in the state, and groundwater there is threatened by contaminants leaking from underground storage tanks.
And yet, other Orange County census zip codes fare worse than 92707's "CalEnviroScreen" score of 40.3. A "pollution burden score," which is based on 11 environmental-quality measurements, is combined with demographic indicators such as asthma, poverty and low-birth-weight rates to determine the CalEnviroScreen results. The higher the score, the worse that place is. Below are Orange County's five worst.
There's such a large concentration of clean-up sides, this entire zip code could pratically be one. Traffic, air pollution and diesel emissions are horrible. Hazardous waste is a major problem, and solid-waste woes are pretty bad. Low-birth weights are above average, the population is not well educated and the poverty rate is fairly high. Pollution Burden Score: 6.40. CalEnviroScreen Score: 41.6.
This area is practically a traffic jam. Thus, air pollution and diesel emissions are high. There's a large percentage of clean-up sites and hazardous waste is a serious problem. The zip code ranks over 90 percent (very, very bad) in (low) education, "linguistic isolation" and poverty. Pollution Burden Score: 5.70. CalEnviroScreen Score: 42.18.
At least ozone's not too bad. Otherwise, this is a salad of diesel emissions, pesticides, traffic, clean-up sites and groundwater threats, with solid and hazardous waste particularly troubling. Asthma is pretty bad, education levels are pretty low and linguistic isolation is pretty high. Pollution Burden Score: 6.20. CalEnviroScreen Score: 42.78.
Traffic is so horrible in this zone it should be declared a parking lot. On the very, very high side are clean-ups sites and hazardous waste. Asthma is a problem, education is low and linguistic isolation is high. Pollution Burden Score: 6.70. CalEnviroScreen Score: 44.22.
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Talk about traffic, the streets and freeways around Angel's Stadium and the Honda Center can be clogged if either venue has an event, but when both do ... yikes! Apparently built on a pile of hazardous waste given the numbers, the area of the 92806 also features high solid-waste and diesel-emissions rates. Education and linguistic isolation rates are poor among residents, but given everything else rates of asthma, low-birth weights and poverty are only middling. Pollution Burden Score: 7.60. CalEnviroScreen Score: 44.84.