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Pollution Experts Say Carmageddon II Will Help Clear The Air

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — That deep breath you take this weekend? Thank Carmageddon II.

If the first Carmageddon was any indicator, LA residents can expect to breathe a little easier this weekend with the shutdown of the 405.

Sure, getting around the city might be more difficult, but breathing the air will be a lot easier.

Reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, Amanda Burden met with air quality officials and they explained how Carmageddon II should be good for our lungs.

Yifang Zhu, a professior at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability says, “If something similar happens to the air, the same as last year and people stay off the roadways, then we expect to see a very clean Saturday.”

Her research team studied the ait quality during last year’s Carmageddon and she and her team found that fewer cars meant a dramatic drop in emissions.

Zhu adds, “In terms of the particle number concentrations, we see 83 percent reduction comparing the closure Saturday to non closure Saturdays.”

The fresh air didn’t stop there. In Santa Monica the air quality was 75 percent cleaner. In Ventura it was about 31 percent better and it was 23 percent cleaner all the way to Long Beach.

Zhu and her team measure the air using high-tech instruments. Wherever they measured, they found cleaner, more breathable air.

She says the research indicates what Los Angeles could look like (and smell like) if more drivers switched over to lower emission, hybrid or electric cars.

“When the technology comes, and people drive electric cars — the freeway will get much cleaner,” Zhu says.

Burden says the clean air benefits of Carmageddon do not last long. As soon as the 405 reopened last year, pollution levels jumped back to normal right away.

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