Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

We have low soot pollution, but smog still hangs over us

We have low soot pollution, but smog still hangs over us

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 25 metropolitan areas with the highest levels of ozone pollution - also known as smog - from the American Lung Association's annual "State of the Air 2017" report.

California's soaring population, weather and topography are all factors that contribute to its air pollution, in a state where many people commute and live in valleys and basins where pollution tends to settle.

Bakersfield tops the list for short-term particle pollution, and the neighboring cities of Visalia, Porterville and Hanford hold the top spot on the list of the cities with the nations worst year-round particle pollution.

"There are still far too many people living in our region that are being exposed to unhealthy levels of air pollution".

Each year the "State of the Air" reports on the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants, ozone pollution (smog) and particle pollution (soot). San Francisco, Marin, Santa Cruz and Sonoma counties all had zero unhealthy ozone days during the period monitored. The report also broke down measurements of high ozone days by county. Charlotte, for years a regular among the Lung Association's rankings of smoggiest cities, is absent from this year's lists for ozone and particle pollution.

Other notable Golden State areas cited in the findings include Visala/Hanford, which is the worst for year-round particle pollution, and Los Angeles/Long Beach, which has the highest levels of ozone year-round.

Children are at special risk from air pollution because their lungs are still growing, health experts say.

"State of the Air" 2017 is the Lung Association's 18th annual, national air quality "report card".

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Brown said clean-air advocates derisively refer to that bill as the "Smoggy Skies Act".

She said she hopes the report sends a clear message to leaders that rules limiting the release of toxins and ensuring healthy air for all Americans need to be fully funded, implemented and enforced.

Santa Cruz County did not fare as well in the second category in the report, earning an "F" for the amount of particle pollution found in the air, which is largely caused by wood smoke during the winter months.

"It causes increased risk in cancers and also irritation in lungs", Dr. Giri Hoskere, a Pulmonologist with Wellmont Health System says.

However, according to the American Lung Association, for data collected from 2013-2015, SLO County received an "F" grade for ozone.

To identify the 25 most polluted US cities, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the metropolitan statistical areas with the highest levels of ozone pollution, measured in days in a year when the concentration of ozone, or smog, exceeded the EPA standard from the ALA's 2017 "State of the Air 2017" report. "Even with the drought and wildfires of recent years, we still enjoy the Lake County clean air". The region still leads the nation in unhealthy days for ozone pollution -122 days - followed by Bakersfield and the Fresno-Madera area.

How clean is the air you breathe?

Numerous cities that reported the worst number of unhealthy days are concentrated in the Western states, including California, Oregon, and Nevada, and experienced wildfire smoke.

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