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Report: Southern California's Air Some of the Worst in U.S.
By Jim Steinberg
San Bernardino County Sun, Calif.
Despite progress, Southern California's air remains home to some of the worst air in the United States, the American Lung Association said Tuesday in its annual State of the Air report. The Los Angeles-Long Beach area ranked no. 1 as the most ozone-polluted in the United States and fifth for year-round particle pollution, the report said.
The report raised the specter of drought and climate change as threatening gains since the report began 16 years ago.
"Los Angeles remains as the metropolitan area (nationwide) with the worst ozone pollution, as it has for all but one of the 16 reports, although it reported its lowest average year-round particles and fewest high ozone days in the report's history," said Janice Nolan, assistant vice president, National Policy and Advocacy, American Lung Association.
The report found that more than 70 percent of Californians -- more than 28 million residents live in counties affected by unhealthy air.
The Lung Association gives a letter grade report card to every county in the nation.
Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside and Ventura all received grades of "F" for ozone days, while Ventura County received a "B" for particulates and San Bernardino County received "D".
Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties received grades of "F" for particulate matters.
"Californians innovative air pollution reduction strategies and clean air grant programs are curbing harmful ozone pollution and helping to control diesel land wood smoke particles," said Bonnie Holmes-Gen, senior director, air quality and climate change, American Lung Association in California.
"Intensifying droughts, wildfire risks, prolonged heat events and other climate impacts will increasingly threaten decades of clean air progress," Holmes-Gen said.
"California's ongoing drought conditions added to the burdens faced due to unhealthy air, and especially in terms of particle pollution in the most recent report period, covering 2011-2013 data," the report said.
Dr. Edward Curry, a pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente in Fontana, said that worsening air due to climate change will likely mean not only higher incidents of asthma cases, and other respiratory conditions, but more cases of increased severity.
The Lung Association says that despite challenges of drought and climate change, pollution gains can continue with increased investment to support:
--Zero emission vehicles and fuels
--Sustainable zero emission freight systems.
--Healthy community planning to increase walk, bike and transit access.
--Maintain and enhance-wood burning controls.
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