According to the American Lung Association’s (ALA) 2016 State of the Air report, California has nation’s dirtiest air.
Six of the 10 worst US cities for short-term pollution are in California. The report finds that Bakersfield tops the list for having the most unhealthy days from airborne particles. The pollution stems from highway traffic, diesel trucks and farm equipment.
Los Angeles remains the nation’s leader in harmful ozone pollution from car tailpipes emitting smog, the report says.
The annual “report card”, found that in total 166 million Americans live with unhealthful levels of air pollution, putting them at risk for premature death and other serious health effects like lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm.
Bakersfield and several Central Valley communities are fighting the bowl-shaped topography hemmed in by mountain ranges. Drought and high temperatures have made the air even more stagnant in recent years.
Climate change is also a looming air pollution challenge, with the report charting an increase in short-term spikes in particle pollution.
Small particles that escape from the burning of coal and from vehicle tail pipes can bury themselves deep in people’s lungs, causing various health problems.
“It causes exacerbations of lung disease, especially asthma,” Dr. Norman Edelman, senior scientific adviser to the ALA, said of the health effects of pollution.
“It’s like having lung disease and catching pneumonia…. It exacerbated it to the point of increasing death from lung disease.”
Top 5 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-Term Particle Pollution (24-hour PM2.5):
- Bakersfield, Calif.
- Fresno-Madera, Calif.
- Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif.
- Modesto-Merced, Calif.
- Fairbanks, Ala.