Ventura County has joined a national push to stop pollution before it occurs with a Board of Supervisors proclamation Tuesday declaring Oct. 4-10 as Pollution Prevention Week.
P2, short for pollution prevention, will become "a buzzword for the '90s," said William Mount, deputy director of the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District. Mount said individuals can prevent pollution at home and work with simple common-sense measures on a small scale.
On a larger scale, companies will be encouraged to avoid emitting toxic pollutants through policies the district plans to implement, Mount said.
"Our natural resources are not going to last forever," he said.
Mount pointed to the 3M plant in Camarillo as one of the county's best examples of a company that has voluntarily reduced emissions.
The company spent nearly $10 million to install a system to recover emissions from solvents that are used in the manufacture of computer tape.
3M, which has topped the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of top toxic polluters in Ventura County for several years, plans to cut its emissions by 75% to about 100 tons per year, said Kevin Rubey, plant manager.
The solvent recovery equipment was not required by any agency, Rubey said.
"We did it because morally it's the right thing to do," he said, adding that reducing waste has also saved the company money.
Solvents are among the county's primary sources of ozone-producing emissions. Ozone, the primary constituent of smog, is formed when emissions from industry and cars mix in sunlight.
Mount said the district is looking for ways that the oil and gas industry can prevent pollution in their operations.
Individuals, he said, can take small, common-sense steps to prevent pollution in their homes and offices.
People can prevent pollution by using ceramic coffee cups and plates in place of paper products and using cloth napkins instead of paper towels or paper napkins. People at work can use stickers on office faxes instead of separate cover sheets and electronic mail rather than printed messages. They can reuse folders and envelopes and should recycle whenever possible.