Half of Los Angeles County residents avoided going outdoors at some point in the last year because of air-quality concerns related to wildfires — a 30% increase from 2020, according to a USC Dornsife College survey released Tuesday on how residents are impacted by their environment.

The “USC Dornsife-Union Bank LABarometer” is a quarterly survey of randomly selected L.A. County residents that measures social conditions across four different areas — livability; mobility; sustainability and resilience; and affordability and prosperity.

Every quarter of each year, data are released concerning one of the areas — with Tuesday’s data focusing on sustainability and resilience.

The report drew on data from July 19 to Sept. 5 and covered 1,244 randomly selected respondents. The survey was conducted in both English and Spanish.

“The startling increase in the percentage of Angelenos who didn’t want to leave their homes because of unsafe air resulting from wildfires really speaks to the growing threat wildfires pose to quality of life in Los Angeles,” said Kyla Thomas, director of LABarometer at the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research.

“Compared to just a year ago, our results suggest that more Angelenos are feeling the impact of climate change on their daily lives and plans.”

Other “takeaways” from the survey were:

— 59% of Angelenos say their next car is likely to be an electric or hybrid vehicle, a 23% increase from 2020. Specifically, 4 in 10 expect their next car to be zero-emission, a 24% increase from 2020;

— 75% say climate change is caused mostly by human activity, up 3 points from 2020;

— Black residents are more likely to work outdoors, unsheltered, and thereby be at greater risk of exposure to harsh environmental conditions. More than a quarter (27%) work outside with no cover, compared to 18% of Latinos, 15% of whites and 10% of Asians;

— The percentage of respondents who believe climate change is a threat to their well-being increased four points to 77%, while the percentage who think local government is doing enough to fight climate change held about steady at just 18%; and

— Two-thirds of Angelenos say their own actions can make a difference in fighting climate change. Seniors (60+) were 23% more likely than young people (18-39) to believe individual actions could make a difference.

“The fact that a large majority of Angelenos expect their next car to be an electric or hybrid vehicle doesn’t just have implications for air quality and the fight against climate change — it raises important questions about urban planning, including what happens to the city’s 500-plus gas station sites when new gas-powered cars are no longer available,” said Christopher Hawthorne, director of 3rd LA at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and chief design officer for the city of Los Angeles.

“The ripple effects from the switch to electric vehicles will be felt across the city for decades to come.”

By following the same residents over time, LABarometer aims “to capture trends and shifts in residents’ attitudes and circumstances, allowing decision-makers in the public and private sectors to better understand the evolving lives and needs of L.A. residents,” according to the survey.

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