Supervisor Hahn Proposes Giving Teeth to County Department of Public Health

Los Angeles, CA—Supervisor Janice Hahn has proposed strengthening the enforcement authority of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health which would allow it to shut down facilities emitting harmful chemicals much like it shuts down restaurants with health code violations.

Supervisor Hahn represents areas where metal forging companies have been found to be emitting high levels of chromium 6, a known carcinogen. The Department of Public Health has issued seven public health directives to these companies, ordering them to lower emissions, but it does not have the regulatory authority to take meaningful action against these companies to force their compliance.

“When a restaurant has repeated health code violations, the Department of Public Health can step in to shut down the restaurant for posing a public health hazard,” said Supervisor Hahn. “We should be able to do the same thing when a company’s toxic emissions are poisoning the air our residents breathe.”

On Tuesday, November 7, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed a motion offered by Supervisor Janice Hahn and Supervisor Kathryn Barger which instructs County Counsel to determine the feasibility of strengthening the enforcement authority of public health directives including the power to shut down facilities that emit hazardous substances.

“I have attended probably 100 SCAQMD meetings,” said Jesse Marquez, the founder of Coalition for a Safe Environment and a supporter of Hahn’s motion. “I have learned from AQMD meetings that even though they are an air quality regulator what I have not seen them do is shut down repeat offenders.  We have children and we have families who suffer the consequences of toxic air and hazardous materials.”

County Counsel will determine the processes necessary to implement the new authorities for the Department of Public Health and report back to the Board in 90 days.

Learn More: Health Directive