Californians continue to breathe the dirtiest air in the nation–despite years of air pollution cleanup efforts, according to a new study released this week by Environment California, an environmental advocacy group.
In fact, California is home to eight of the 10 most ozone-polluted counties in the United States. Unfortunately, many scientists predict that rising temperatures from global warming will increase conditions conducive to forming ozone, a key component of smog.
The 31-page study examines the correlation between higher temperatures and ozone pollution at eight locations in California, and concludes that, in order to protect the health of Californians, policy-makers must take aggressive steps to reduce pollution that leads to smog, while also continuing to lead national and international efforts to tackle global warming.
Ground-level ozone, the primary component of smog, is a severe respiratory irritant that can aggravate asthma and cause other respiratory problems, including permanent lung damage. Using temperature and air quality data from the California Air Resources Board, this report found that the warmer the weather the more likely that Californians are breathing dirty air.
The key findings include the following:
In Bakersfield, ozone levels exceeded the state eight-hour health standard 91 percent of the days that the daily maximum temperature was 100