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LA orders inspectors to make sure homes near freeways to have air filters

New homes built near freeways must be inspected by Los Angeles building inspectors, according to a new order from Mayor Eric Garcetti. The inspection will mainly concern whether the required air filtration systems were installed in the homes in order to address health issues among residents living near freeways.

From now on, a new check box will be added to the Department of Building and Safety’s inspection forms, according to mayoral spokesman Alex Comisar in an article by LA Times.

LA’s building inspection software is also being tweaked in order to send out alerts whenever filtration requirements by new residential developments are not met. Once finished, the improved software will also send data relating to the statistics of the filtration system installation, said department spokesman Jeff Napier.

In 2016, the LA city government rolled out an array of special rules regarding special filtration in homes located near freeways, as such communities have a higher risk of being exposed to traffic pollution.

In this ordinance, new homes construction within a hundred feet of a freeway are required to have air filters with a minimum efficiency reporting value. These filters should meet the 13 to 16-point industry scale standard, which indicates their efficacy in blocking pollution particles.

The 2016 ordinance was met with skepticism on the part on health experts and air quality officials. According to the LA Times  article, these air filters can block harmful particles from vehicles but are useless against toxic gases. Air filters won’t also run effectively if the ventilation system is not running. Another issue is the maintenance, as these air filters stipulated by the city government require regular upkeep.

One more thing critics of the ordinance pointed out is that the new rules only affected newly construction homes near the freeway. This only represents a small part of the population living in the area, as there are estimated to be approximately 600,000 people living near freeways. Local enforcement has also been addressing concerns of neighborhood activists complaining that officials have failed to make sure new homes have stronger air filters.

Despite the new rules, an article by LA Times published last July reported that the city government had no means to track or document whether newly constructed homes near the freeway are installed with high-efficiency air filters.

Instead, what LA building inspectors have in place are a set of standards that verify air-filtration performance, collected through building plans and on-site visits.

Garcetti’s new order, which specifically directs LA building inspectors to make sure the new homes have stronger air filtration systems, are expected to significantly help curb health issues in the area. The mayor’s office is also accepting recommendations from city departments. One area they’re examining is the zoning near freeways and whether it will uplift the quality of life of residents living near freeways.

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