Kern County's air quality continues to be some of worst in US

Pat Wise
April 26, 2019

The annual air quality "report card" tracks Americans' exposure to unhealthful levels of ozone or particle pollution, both of which can be deadly.

The Sacramento-Roseville area took fifth place on the Top 10 Most Ozone-Polluted Cities list - a ranking that featured nearly every major metropolitan area in California.

Over 43 percent of Americans were exposed to air with unhealthy levels of either ozone pollution, particulate pollution or both, according to a study from the American Lung Association released on Wednesday. After several years of improvement, the seven-county Denver metro area saw an increase in the number of high-ozone days during that period, putting hundreds of thousands of residents at greater risk of negative health effects.

Brett Scheutte, the Executive Director for the American Lung Association in Missouri, is in the studio today to talk about these results and help us understand more.

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The country had been making progress in cleaning up air pollution, but during the Trump administration, it has been backsliding, the report says Deregulation and climate change are largely to blame.

"Ozone especially harms children, older adults and those with asthma and other lung diseases", said Strother.

"Particle pollution is made of soot or tiny particles that come from coal-fired power plants, diesel emissions, wildfires and wood-burning devices". California dominated the list of most-polluted cities. The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: through average annual particle pollution levels and short-term spikes in particle pollution. Beyond the Valley's problematic topography - a bowl surrounded by mountain ranges that traps pollution in - he highlighted transportation-related pollution sources, including from major highways and railways. Both ozone and particle pollution are risky to public health and can increase the risk of premature death and other serious health effects such as lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm. Climate change poses many threats to human health, including worsened air quality and extreme weather events.

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