California cities and counties continue to dominate the list
of places with the highest number of days with high air pollution.
– The American Lung Association of California
California is infamous for its smog.
Air monitoring indicates that more than
90 percent of Californians breathe unhealthy levels of one or more air pollutants during some part of the year; most air toxics have no known safe levels, and some may accumulate in the body from repeated exposures, according to the California Air Resources Board (CARB).1
In fact, almost 23 percent of the California counties analyzed in the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air: 2013” report failed to meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate pollution with Riverside, Fresno, Kern and Los Angeles counties leading the way, and more than 57 percent of the counties analyzed for ozone pollution received a grade of “F.”2
The smallest particulate matter pollutants – much smaller than a human hair in diameter – can carry heavy metals and cancer-causing organic compounds into the alveoli, the deepest and most vulnerable part of the lungs. Ozone compromises lung function and reduces resistance to colds and diseases like pneumonia. Ozone also contributes to bronchitis, emphysema, asthma and heart disease. With long-term exposure, ozone can cause permanent lung damage. In addition, high levels of ozone have been documented to damage certain trees, plants and crops.
And air pollution is just one of the environmental problems facing our state. Because of rampant population growth, we’re also experiencing degradation of our ground water; pollution of our lakes, rivers and streams; destruction of forests, national parks and natural habitats; wildfires and forest fires; overconsumption of precious natural resources; deadly sewage on our beaches; continually expanding urban sprawl and more.
Experts agree that the most dangerous problem facing our environment now and in the future – whether local, national or global – is human overpopulation.
California is one of the most environmentally sensitive and biologically diverse regions in the world, and to many of its residents, the most beautiful. But now, as our state population explodes, that’s all changing. How long can such a sensitive and diverse system last in the face of pollution, overdevelopment and so many other types of human encroachment?
1 California Air Resources Board (CARB). http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/health/health.htm
2 ”State of the Air: 2013.” American Lung Association. http://www.stateoftheair.org/2013/states/california/