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Air Pollution Complaints

Complaints should be reported as quickly as possible after you detect an offensive odor, observe smoke, fallout, dust or any other air pollution problem. The sooner a complaint is received, the sooner it will be dispatched to an inspector who can begin an investigation. Problems should be reported each day that they occur. The most efficient way to make a complaint is to use one of the Districtís toll-free lines.

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How do I file an air pollution complaint?

  • Call 1-800-55-99-AIR (1-800-559-9247) to report smoking vehicles.  

  • For other air pollution complaints, submit online or use the following toll free numbers:

County of Residence

Toll Free Number

San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced (800) 281-7003
Madera, Fresno, Kings (800) 870-1037
Tulare, Valley portion of Kern (800) 926-5550

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 What information do I need to give the District when filing a general air pollution complaint?

When making an odor complaint, wind direction and a detailed description are extremely helpful, especially in situations when the odor has dissipated by the time an inspector arrives. Try to associate the odor with something familiar to most people such as rotten eggs, sweet or sour chemicals, burned gunpowder, garlic, acid, chlorine or asphalt. Other useful descriptions include oily, musty, metallic, pungent, light or heavy. Additional helpful information to include is whether the odor is fleeting but recurring or constant for long periods.

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What information do I need to give the District when filing a smoking vehicle complaint?

A District staff member will ask the following of callers on the toll-free Smoking Vehicle hotline (1-800-55-99-AIR or 1-800-559-9247):

  • the smoking vehicle's license plate number (the program only has jurisdiction over vehicles registered in the State of California);
  • the vehicle make; and
  • the date, time and location of the observation.

You may also access and/or fill out an online smoking vehicle report .

Using the Department of Motor Vehicle's database, District retrieves the owner's registration information and mails an advisory letter to the owner informing them that a complaint has been filed against their vehicle. All information involved in the program remains confidential.

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 How does the District respond to general air pollution complaints?

Every complaint received by the District is investigated and all complainants are contacted, unless  specifically requested otherwise. The names and addresses of complainants are confidential and are divulged to no one but District staff, except where required in litigated matters. 

During regular business hours, complaints are dispatched by radio to the area inspector as soon as possible. An alternate inspector will be contacted when the area inspector is unavailable.

During non-business hours, the Districtís telephone answering system will forward complaints to the on-call inspector who will contact the complainant directly. Depending upon the severity and nature of the situation, violations in progress will either receive immediate attention, or they will be investigated the following business day.

A special form is used by inspectors to record details of a complaint investigation. These include the date and time of contact, whether contact was in person or by telephone, whether the complaint was confirmed, and if it was, pertinent details about the source involved. This information is later entered into the Districtís database, where a permanent record is maintained.

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How does the District respond to smoking vehicle complaints?

Using the Department of Motor Vehicle's database, the District retrieves the owner's registration information and mails an advisory letter to the owner informing him/her that a complaint has been filed against the vehicle. All information involved in the program remains confidential.

The letter advises smoking vehicle owners that their vehicle was reported to be smoking and recommends they have it repaired to eliminate excessive emissions.

The letter also alerts the owner to the fact that excessively smoking vehicles violate the State of California Motor Vehicle Codes (Sections 27153 and 27153.5) which carries a fine of $100 to $250, -- depending on the type of vehicle -- for first time offenders.

After owners make the necessary repairs, they are asked to complete the Smoking Vehicle Compliance Form attached to the advisory letter and return it to District.

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 How about "Public Nuisance"?

Occasionally, the District receives complaints that may constitute a public nuisance. The stateís public nuisance law prohibits emissions, which cause offensive odors or other disturbances in the community, create a threat to public health or cause damage to property.

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