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State air resources board implements emissions compliance testing

Heavy-duty trucks on California's highways are now subject to regular emissions testing by the California Air Resources Board.
truck being tested by CARB
Posted at 5:09 PM, Apr 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-26 00:45:59-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A new tool from the California Air Resources Board aims to reduce harmful emissions and protect public health in the communities like Bakersfield that are highly impacted by diesel air pollution. The screening device is designed to manage emissions from diesel trucks.

It's part of the California Air Resources Board Heavy Duty Truck Inspection and Maintenance Program, and if vehicles are found to be out of compliance, owners can be cited.

CARB Air Resources Engineer Isaac Lino explains how the Portable Emissions Acquisition (PEAQ) System reads truck emissions.

"When a truck passes by through my lane, I'll check the readings, and it depends on the levels of high concentrations. Those are the ones I"m going to flag for inspection," said Lino, adding that it only takes seconds for the system to give a complete reading.

PEAQ is designed to detect the pollutants produced by vehicles.

isaac lino CARB
Isaac Lino, Air Resources Engineer for the California Air Resources Board

"Everything starts over here from the outside. It gets all the emissions from the trucks, then it goes into my analyzers, and every single analyzer, it checks for gasses, mainly CO2 and NOx. Also, it checks for black carbon, which is really important. It's the black soot that comes out of the access pipe," explained Lino.

Erin Shields, manager of the Diesel Equipment Enforcement Section with CARB, says it's important to conduct checks like this in places like Bakersfield where there is high diesel air pollution.

"It directly affects human health," said Shields. "It can lead to asthma. It can lead to cardiovascular disease. There's a lot of human health impacts that can lower quality of life and also lower life spans."

According to Shields, if a truck is determined not to be in compliance, the California Highway Patrol will pull it over for an inspection.

"Then we conduct a full inspection of the emissions compliance systems on the truck. Those inspections take between 15 and 20 minutes, generally," said Shields. "We'll do a smoke test on the truck, and if any issues are found with the truck we will issue a citation."

erin shields CARB
Erin Shields, Manager of the Diesel Equipment Enforcement Section of the California Air Resources Board

Lino says it's 20 to 50 thousand parts per million for black carbon, and above 2 to 5 parts per million for NOx that would cause him to flag a vehicle. He adds that the inspection is important because mistakes can happen.

"There's sometimes that I have false positives, so basically it says it's a really high emitter, but when they do the inspection, it's within the threshold," said Lino.

The crucial part, according to Lino, is for owners and operators to make changes if they are advised to.

"At the end of the day, definitely they have to fix their vehicle. That's the most important part of the program, to be within the regulation and have a good maintenance," said Lino.

This is part of the first phase of the CARB implementation. The next phase will happen by the middle of this year when all heavy-duty trucks will have to register with CARB and carry a certificate of compliance to operate in California.


The state, county, and city are all working to improve air quality across the board in California, and with good reason.

The American Lung Association recently released its State of the Air Report, and the grades, as well as the data, did not look good for many California counties, including Kern.

Locally, the most polluted city when it comes to particulate pollution is Bakersfield. Particulate pollution is when the air is polluted by small pieces of toxic materials that are harmful if breathed in.

These particle pollutants can include sulfates, nitrates, and ammonia.

The ALA report gave Kern County an F for both ozone and particle pollution, and also rated it as the number one most polluted place to live in the United States.

Poor air quality is often associated with many health issues, including asthma, dementia, and heart disease.