Arvin, located at the base of the San
Joaquin Valley in Kern County, has earned national recognition for having some
of the worst air quality in the country. Arvin is a small agricultural
community of 19,000 located 15 miles southeast of Bakersfield. Residents talk
about the high incidences of asthma and valley fever in their city, which is 90
In 2007, the United States Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) listed Arvin as having the highest levels of smog of
any community in the United States. The city's level of ozone, smog's primary
component, exceeded the EPA's acceptable limits an average of 73 days per year
between 2004 and 2006.
became even more critical in October 12, 2011 when federal officials
opened an investigation into the death of two workers, who were exposed
to lethal concentrations of hydrogen sulfide at the Community Recycling
Center near Arvin. A month later, The Kern County Board of Supervisors
revoked the recycling facility permit and fined the facility with at
least $2.33 million for land use and related violations at its Lamont
to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), it has been reported that
170 parts per million (ppm) to 300 ppm is the maximum concentration
that can be endured by people for 1 hour without serious consequences.
Olfactory fatigue, the inability to discern odors, occurs at 100 ppm.
The two brothers had recently complained to family members about strong
odors at the facility and that they had been given only painters’ masks
to protect them from the fumes, the newspaper reported.
of various Kern county community groups, including the Committee for a
Better Arvin (CBA), the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment
(CRPE), Dolores Huerta Foundation have partnered with The Rose
Foundation for Communities & The Environment and Global Community
Monitor to design a community specific monitoring program. Through this
air monitoring project, the residents of Arvin and nearby communities
hope to improve air quality through policy changes in favor of
environmental health and justice.
of December 2011, a toxic tour was conducted around the outskirts of
the controversial Lamont composting facility. Members of the Arvin
Bucket Brigade and concerned local residents tried to describe the
area's foul-smelling odors, they all agreed that the smell was feces.
The group took the first gas sample at this site and scoped out seven
other area locations that may be included in future testing.
January, The first Arvin Bucket Brigade air sample confirmed community
concerns about the dangers of a troubled recycling and composting
facility. The test showed elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide, a toxic
chemical at the center of the investigation of the two worker deaths at
the Community Recycling and Resource Recovery Facility.
The official Bucket Brigade training, provided by Global Community Monitor, was conducted from on February 12, 2012.