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California's air quality worsening

In its 11th annual report on the nation's air quality, the American Lung Association found that "despite progress in many places ... some cities, mostly in California, had air that was more polluted than in the previous report."

Los Angeles at sunsetFlickr photo by Marcy ReifordLos Angeles at sunset

The analysis focused on Environmental Protection Agency measurements of ozone (smog) and particle pollution (a combination of tiny specks of soot, dust, and aerosols that are suspended in the air) in the nation's metropolitan areas; California's metro areas are well represented in the rankings.

Los Angeles was rated the smoggiest metro area in the nation, had the third worst year-round particle pollution and fourth worst short-term particle pollution levels. That said, "the metro area still reported its second lowest ozone levels since the Lung Association’s first report in 2000," according to the report. The LA metro region also "saw improvements in short-term levels of particle pollution."

Bakersfield scored second smoggiest, second for worst short-term particle pollution levels and first worst for year-round particle pollution levels.

"All the cities with worse year-round particle levels were in California, including Bakersfield, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, Visalia-Porterville, Fresno-Madera, and Modesto." Five of the seven worst polluted cites that showed elevated levels of short-term particle pollution were in California.

The report uses the data as a call to action as the American Lung Association lobbies the federal government for stricter emissions regulations.

Americans can take steps today and every day that will improve air quality immediately and ultimately impact climate change as well," Connor added. "Drive less. Don’t burn wood or trash. Use less electricity, and make sure your local school system requires clean school buses.

There was a minor sliver of good news in the report. Two California cities showed up on the list of municipalities with some of the cleanest air: Salinas and San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles ranked high for best year-round particle pollution and best short-term particle pollution.

Filed under: Environment, Daily Report

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