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Is the Air Pollution in Your Neighborhood a Cancer Risk?

Have you ever noticed that buildings on busy San Francisco streets end up coated in black soot? Is the soot the result of air pollution, and if so, is it harmful? The team over at Hoodline dug into those questions and found, thanks to information from the SF Indicator Project, that 3.3 percent of San Franciscans live in neighborhoods where air pollution leads to higher cancer risk, defined as greater than 100 cases in 1 million people. Most of the city's landmass falls in the blessed green zone—indicating a risk of fewer than 50 cases per 1 million—but there are a few key areas that, as Hoodline points out, carry a larger share of the burden.

Mission Bay leads the list, with 28 percent of residents living in an area with elevated risk, followed by 16.5 percent in the Financial District and 8.7 percent in the Western Addition. The Bayview, Downtown/Civic Center, and the Excelsior also have slightly higher cancer risks for around 5 percent of residents.

Hoodline also dug up a map of air pollutant exposure zones across the city that was put together by the Department of Health and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD). The neighborhoods with a higher concentration of pollutants match up closely with the neighborhoods that have elevated cancer risks. Diesel exhaust is one of the biggest contributors to potentially dangerous pollution and may also contribute to asthma and other respiratory conditions. Luckily, San Francisco's ocean breezes help alleviate the problem, meaning that we don't have issues like those in Sacramento or Los Angeles. A BAAQMD rep recommends keeping windows that face the street closed and possibly getting a HEPA air filter to mitigate the risk.

· Should You Be Worried About Air Pollution in Your Neighborhood? [Hoodline]
· SF Indicator Project [Official Site]
· Bay Area Air Quality Management District [Official Site]