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 shows that over 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 (ARB).1
In fact, almost 23% 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 over 57% 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—often caused by migrating illegal immigrants; over-consumption 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?
1California Air Resources Board (ARB). 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/