San Francisco, California, a temporary or permanent home to all students of UC Berkeley holds one of the world’s biggest technological power cities: Silicon Valley. However, California itself “is home to eight of the 10 cities in America where air pollution is worst.” (California)
However, “ ‘No state has done more to address air pollution than California has done over the last 50 years. But they also have the biggest problems,” says Paul Billings, the senior vice president of advocacy at the American Lung Association.’” (California)
Silicon Valley, a world renowned region for technological advances is by no surprise 4th on the list of the “Most polluted metropolitan regions by average year round concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5).
Why and how could this be?
According to Evelyn Nieves’ article “The Superfund Sites of Silicon Valley” in The New York Times, Silicon Valley, the home of silicon chips and semiconductors, “Santa Clara County is riddled with 23 toxic Superfund sites, more than any county in the country.” (Nieves)
In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency officially announced that trichloroethylene, a solvent that is most commonly found it “degreasing agents, spot cleaners, and old Silicon Valley semiconductor plants, a carcinogen.” They found that heart malformations, liver, kidney, and brain damage could be traced back to the solvent. (Nieves)
Clearly, the underground contamination from the Superfunds have spread beyond what anyone could’ve expected. Unfortunately, a lot of the population of San Jose are unaware of this problem.
“Most people I talked to in the community seemed unaware of their presence…Often, even the notion of Superfund sites is foreign to many people. We are used to taking for granted the safety of the environment we inhabit. I feel the need to pay more attention to it.” - Federica Armstrong (Nieves)
Superfunds site in Santa Clara, California. - Federica Armstrong (Nieves)
Local Government Actions for Climate Change, California Air Resources Board , https://ww2.arb.ca.gov/our-work/programs/local-actions-climate-change/local-government-actions-climate-change#:~:text=California%20Climate%20Investments%20is%20a,environment%20%E2%80%93%20particularly%20in%20disadvantaged%20communities.
Nieves, Evelyn. “The Superfund Sites of Silicon Valley.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Mar. 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/26/lens/the-superfund-sites-of-silicon-valley.html.
Schlanger, Zoë. “California Is Home to 8 of the 10 Cities in America Where Air Pollution Is Worst.” Quartz, Quartz, 19 Apr. 2019, https://qz.com/963089/california-is-home-to-eight-of-the-10-cities-in-america-where-air-pollution-is-worst/.