California has by far the country’s worst air quality even despite decades of environmentalism, according to research scientists at California State University (CSU) published Thursday.
Researchers found California’s air quality is improving, but it is still by far the worst in the nation in terms of ozone and small particle pollution. The report found that more than 90 percent of Californians live in areas with unhealthy air at some point during the year.
“The Los Angeles basin is exposed to the highest ozone levels in the country,” Dr. Steve LaDochy, a professor who studies air pollution at CSU and study co-author, said in a statement. “It is getting better here, but it’s still the worst.”
The top four U.S. cities with the worst air quality are in California, and seven of the ten cities on American Lung Association’s (ALA) list of cities with the worst air quality are in the Golden state. The news comes as Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown prioritizes environmental concerns on global warming instead of traditional pollution issues.
California’s air is the nation’s dirtiest by a wide margin with an average weighted exposure of 12.5, while the national average is 8.6. The primary causes of this air pollution is a growing population, the high number of cars on the road and the amount of sunshine the state receives.
“There are a lot of people still living in unhealthy areas, and there is still a need for improvement,” LaDochy said.
Los Angeles’ air pollution problem is getting better, but the city still leads the nation in unhealthy days for ozone pollution, followed by the other California cities. ALA recommends that California’s carpool more, avoid burning wood and switch to electric cars to reduce pollution. However, the state’s geography makes improving the air quality difficult.
“Our geography and our climate are two very big factors,” LaDochy said. “It is a byproduct of our sunny weather and so many cars on the road. So when the ozone levels go up, it is basically because there are a lot of cars and sunlight present.”
The EPA data tracks average exposure to small particulates, which kill roughly 5.5 million people globally every year and cause most asthma. Particulate emissions have fallen by 35 percent since the year 2000, mostly in states that voted for Republicans. Studies show that fracking for natural gas is responsible for almost 20 percent of the decline in emissions, but California’s government has actively discouraged fracking.
California’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions declined by less than the U.S. national average, according to a January report by the green group Environmental Progress. These emissions are two-and-a-half times higher than they should be because the state shut down five nuclear reactors, which did not generate air pollution. The state must reduce emissions at least seven times faster than the current rate to meet its 2030 climate goals.
The average red states’ air is 10 percent cleaner than the average blue state, according to Environmental Protection Agency data previously analyzed by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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