The state EPA's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has an online mapping tool that allows Californians to see a detailed report card for the places they frequent. 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 "CalEnviroScreen" results. Each census ZIP code (not always identical to a postal ZIP code) gets a score, so based on that, here are Orange County's five best places.
The lower one scores, the better. The coastal area straddling Newport Beach and Laguna Beach gets good marks for (lack of) asthma, pesticides and poverty while finishing fairly middling in traffic, diesel emissions and low-birth-weight rates. Impaired water bodies are a concern. Pollution Burden Score: 3.10. CalEnviroScreen Score: 7.75.
The northern part of the city extending to the Huntington Beach border and Costa Mesa to the east comes up with goose eggs when it comes to threats to groundwater and threats from pesticides and solid waste. High impaired water bodies refers to the beaches fed by Santa Ana River outfall. Pollution Burden Score: 3.10. CalEnviroScreen Score: 7.13.
Pesticides, groundwater and solid-waste threats are nonexistent. Asthma and poverty rates are low in the upscale community, one of the latest brought to Orange County by the Irvine Co. But low birth weights are a problem. Pollution Burden Score: 2.40. CalEnviroScreen Score: 6.96.
Ozone, groundwater and solid-waste threats: nada. Poverty registers a blip, and village residents are among the highest educated in the county. Diesel emissions are higher than average, which is also about where traffic falls. Impaired water bodies are a huge concern. Pollution Burden Score: 3.10. CalEnviroScreen Score: 4.03.
This canyon country registered among the lowest scores in the state despite middling to slightly higher marks for ozone, pesticides and air quality. But groundwater threats are relatively low, and hazardous waste gets a zero. The poverty rate is very low, the asthma rate is not too bad, and low birth weight and "linguistic isolation" rates were not available. Pollution Burden Score: 4.00. CalEnviroScreen Score: 2.8.
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