California Named US State With Worst Air Quality, Yet Again

  • Published on June 21st, 2017

The state of California has again been named by the American Lung Association as the US state with the worst air quality — mostly as a result of having the highest ozone/smog levels out of any state in the country, but also high particle pollution levels.

By James Ayre LA Smog california pollution

What that means is that California has now ranked at the top of 17 out of 18 of the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air reports. This reality is no doubt partly due to the fact that the state’s population has been growing fairly rapidly in recent years — it’s hard to reduce air pollution when every type of activity, from transportation, to agriculture, to climate control, keeps growing.

Another clear reason is the state’s heavy auto dependency and auto-oriented design, which results in a great deal of driving, traffic congestion, and pollution. It’s also home of Carmageddon.

The 3 worst regions in the US as regards smog levels are all in California, according to the report — with Los Angeles-Long Beach, Bakersfield, and Fresno-Madera topping the list.

“The Los Angeles basin is exposed to the highest ozone levels in the country,” noted Steve LaDochy, PhD, professor of geosciences and environment at California State University, Los Angeles, an expert in air pollution and climate. “It is getting better here, but it’s still the worst.”

The press release provides more: “The annual study ranks the cleanest and most polluted areas in the country by grading counties in the US LA smog california pollutionbased on harmful recorded levels of ozone (smog) and particle pollution. The 2017 report used data collected from 2013 to 2015.

“The air quality in the state was significantly better in northern California, found the report. Nonetheless, more than 90% of Californians still live in counties with unhealthy air. …

“LaDochy suspects that California’s continuously growing population is largely to blame for the state’s failing grades on ‘State of the Air’ reports and more residents is also behind the Central Valley’s recent drop in air quality, according to the report.”

LaDochy noted: “Population in (the Central Valley) has really bloomed; it’s nearly doubled. The coast is so expensive, so more and more people are moving to central California.”

To put numbers to that assertion … going by the figures provided by the US Census Bureau, the population of California has increased from 15.8 million (in 1960) to 39.2 million (as of 2016).

(Originally appeared at our sister-site, Cleantechnica. Images by traveljunction (some rights reserved) and Dave Herholzsome rights reserved))

About the Author

  • IdleFree

    California has a big carbon / pollution leak that can be plugged. How? It’s pretty simple: just turn off the key (when parked) and be idle free. That’s right, discretionary idling, like prolonged warm ups, smartphone idling, and drive-thrus combine to emit roughly 3.75 million tons of CO2 annually by California motorists. To learn more about vehicle idling, visit idlefreecalifornia.org

    • People are finally getting smarter about idling. With older engines, it was actually better to keep them “warmed up”, but new cars should definitely be shut down when you’re just sitting and waiting for someone. Saves gas, too!