A study funded by the NOAA has recently claimed that the volatile organic compounds (VOC) in the Los Angeles Basin have dropped immensely over the past 50 years, despite the fact that the fossil fuel usage now is three times the one in the 60s. The reason, as NOAA’s Carsten Warneke says is that “cars are getting cleaner.”
The concentration of VOCs dropped by 98 percent since the 1960s. Through 2002 and 2010 alone, the concentration dropped by half, in just eight years.
“Even on the most polluted day during a research mission in 2010, we measured half the VOCs we had seen just eight years earlier,” Warneke said. “The difference was amazing.”
The data used in the study was gathered by aircraft sampling, from studies made over the past 50 years and CARB (California Air Resources Board) air quality measurements over the last 30 years.
Warneke expects the VOCs to decrease further, since cars are getting more and more efficient and their tailpipes don’t emit nearly as much as they did at the beginning of the 21st century, only 12 years ago.
However, Warneke says the drop in VOCs still doesn’t influence the drop in ozone levels in the area, which still don’t meet the EPA standards.