Physical Environment

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Physical Environment: 13.4%
Percent of Days that Air Quality was Rated as Unhealthy for Sensitive Populations. Reflecting most recent data available (2020).

A major part of living well is having a sense of “space” or place where one can rejuvenate, be refreshed emotionally, or to just be able to enjoy being outside. This sense of well-being while outside is enhanced when we experience clean air.

The Live Well San Diego Indicator: Physical Environment measures the number of days in the month that air quality is rated poorly. Efforts by the community and partners to have better environments have been moving this indicator in the right direction. The report below shows the following charts: Data by Year and Region. Simply click the report's forward or back arrow to view each chart. (Reports are best viewed and printed in Google Chrome.)

To print, click on Full Screen Mode (double-headed arrow, bottom right). Right-click on the desired report page and select print. (You may need to adjust setting to print "Background graphics".) For additional assistance, please contact us.

San Diego skyline from waterfront

Why We Measure Air Quality

The quality of the community’s physical environment greatly impacts the health and well-being of the population. Poor air quality can be particularly detrimental to vulnerable populations. The relationship between elevated air pollution, particularly fine particulate matter and ozone, and compromised health, has been well documented. Negative consequences of ambient air pollution include the following.

  • Decreased lung function
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Other adverse pulmonary effects

Evaluations, such as Healthy People 2010 and 2020, and County Health Rankings all measure air quality as an indicator for success.

Research, Best Practices & Logic Model – Physical Environment: Air Quality
View research, best practices, and example of the collective impact logic model related to Physical Environment

Moving Forward to a Healthier Environment

To help improve this measurement, local governments are taking the lead to help create healthy environments. On February 14, 2018, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors adopted a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to improve climate resiliency, expand environmental stewardship, support the local economy, and move towards a more sustainable future. Many other jurisdictions have also adopted their own climate action plans, including the City of San Diego, City of San Marcos, City of Chula Vista and City of Carlsbad.

In addition, the County of San Diego Air Pollution Control District monitors and forecasts local air pollution levels and allows county residents to check their current, local air pollution level using their zip code. They were recently awarded $2.5 million from the California Air Resources Board to help conduct air pollution monitoring in the district’s Portside Neighborhoods and take steps to reduce the air pollution and its impacts on residents.

Below are Live Well San Diego Recognized Partners who are working to improve the environment and air quality within San Diego County. San Diego residents can take part by learning more and participating in some of their upcoming events.

With the People, For the People

Casa Familiar, a Community Development Agency in San Ysidro and South San Diego, works to involve and engage residents in issues affecting their community. They have been leading the community outreach efforts for the San Ysidro Community Air Study, a multi-organizational effort which began in 2016 to better understand air pollution health risks faced by communities. San Ysidro is a community near one of the busiest border crossings in the world which may result in exposure to additional pollution. This study is implementing the placement of several low-cost sensors throughout the community.

Learn more about the San Ysidro Community Air Study.

Advocating for Clean Commuting

The San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, helps make our environment cleaner by promoting bicycling as a safe and enjoyable form of transportation through working with cities in the region to create safer bicycle infrastructure such as bike paths, lanes and trails. More bicycle commuters in place of cars helps to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality and the health of San Diego County residents.

They have a number of reoccurring events each month to engage all levels of cyclists, including the following:

For more events, visit the SD Bike Coalition website.

Be a Commuting Hero, (Even if Just for One Day)

Another way to switch up your commute is by participating in SANDAG’s iCommute Progam. Each year, SANDAG is the local host of the annual national Bike to Work Day, which will be held this year on May 16. While every day is a good day to commute by bike, Bike to Work Day is a particularly fun day for cyclists, with pit stops along the way offering refreshments, swag and comradery with fellow cyclists.

Last year, more than 10,000 San Diego residents participated in this event. To register and be a part of the fun, visit SANDAG's Bike to Work Day page.

In addition, iCommute has funded the Go by BIKE mini-grant, which enables 21 organizations including many Live Well San Diego Recognized Partners to host free biking programs and events for all San Diego County residents from March – June 2019. See the list of these events on the 2019 GO by BIKE Mini-Grant program recipients document.

Expanded Indicators Related to Physical Environment

Other related indicators such as Recycling, Ozone Design Value, Particulate Matter, Water Quality, and Beach Days Notices are reported below. The report below shows the following charts: Data by Year, HHSA Service Region, City and Sub-regional Areas. Simply click the report's forward or back arrow to view each chart.

To print, click on Full Screen Mode (double-headed arrow, bottom right). Right-click on the desired report page and select print. (You may need to adjust setting to print "Background graphics".) For additional assistance, please contact us.


  • Data Download
  • Data Dictionary

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