California had the top five smoggiest metropolitan areas in the country in 2010, according to a report released Wednesday by the environmental advocacy organization, Environment California.
Los Angeles-Long Beach was ranked third alongside Bakersfield, behind Riverside-San Bernardino and Visalia-Tulare-Porterville. Fresno was the fifth city. In total, the state racked up 110 smog days–or had unhealthy air one day out of every three throughout 2010.
Other cities that made the Top 10 list were Baltimore, MD Washington, DC, Philadelphia, PA Houston, TX and Atlanta, GA.
The Environmental California report titled Danger in the Air: Unhealthy Air Days in 2010 and 2011 also found that during those 110 smog days in California, parts of the state had smog levels above and beyond the 2010 national health standard. Los Angeles residents had three “red-alert” days. And this summer, to date, Los Angeles-area residents have already witnessed 85 unhealthy air days.
Those most at risk during these days according to the report are children, the elderly and those with respiratory infections. The report stated, “Children who grow up in areas with high levels of smog may develop diminished lung capacity, putting them at greater risk of lung disease later in life. Additionally, children exposed to smog in the womb can experience lower birth weight and stunted growth. Even among healthy adults, repeated exposure to smog pollution over time permanently damages lung tissues, decreases the ability to breathe normally, exacerbates chronic diseases like asthma, and can even cause premature death.”
Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) said in a statement following the release of the report, “We have made great strides over the years to achieve clean air, but this new report underscores the urgent need to do more to protect American families from air pollution.”
He added, “Unfortunately, our landmark clean air laws are under assault in Washington. If Republicans in Congress have their way, they will dismantle the Clean Air Act and block all of EPA’s efforts to reduce smog, soot and toxic air pollution from power plants, industrial boilers, and cement kilns. Californians and all Americans will suffer unless these efforts are defeated.”
Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Marina del Rey), who will run again for office in the newly-formed 50th Assembly District also issued a statement, saying, “Despite years of fighting to improve the air quality of California, we clearly have a long way to go until we can breathe easier. Smog pollution is a tremendous threat to public health, increasing health care costs for the state and diminishing our quality of life.”
Addressing Californians’ dependency on their cars, she added, “We can encourage increased use of alternative fuel and electric vehicles. Each additional vehicle mile traveled by these vehicles brings California one mile closer to meeting its emission reduction goals and one step closer to decreasing its dependency on fossil fuels.”
The report states that even though the Environmental Protection Agency is required to set a national standard for smog pollution under the federal Clean Air Act, the EPA’s board of independent scientists admits the current standard does not adequately protect people. The standard was supposed to be upgraded this year, but President Obama angered many environmental groups after he decided to wait until some time in 2013.
Environment California’s Sean Carroll issued a release on behalf of the organization, stating, “For too long, smog pollution has left our children gasping for breath. Unfortunately, rather than acting decisively to protect our kids from dangerous air pollution, President Obama chose to kick the can down the road. California’s kids, senior citizens and those suffering from respiratory problems will suffer as a consequence and certainly deserve better.”
The report comes just two days before The House of Representatives is set to vote on H.R. 2401, which would delay implementing quality air standards under the Clean Air Act. However, the Obama Administration has stated that the President would likely veto the bill if it were to pass.