Trouble in the Air: Los Angeles, Long Beach and Anaheim experienced 156 days of polluted air in 2018
Los Angeles – Los Angeles, Long Beach and Anaheim, with over 13 million people, suffered through 156 days of poor air quality due to air pollution in 2018, according to a new report from Environment California Research & Policy Center, Frontier Group and CALPIRG Education Fund. Statistics from 2018 represent the most recent data available. Air pollution increases the risk of premature death, asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts.
“No Californian should have to experience one day of polluted air -- let alone 156 days, ” said Dan Jacobson, Director with Environment California Research and Policy Center. “Air quality will only get worse as our climate warms, so we have no time to lose. We must make progress toward clean air.”
For the report, Trouble in the Air: Millions of Americans Breathed Polluted Air in 2018, researchers reviewed Environmental Protection Agency air pollution records from across the country. The report focuses on ground-level ozone and fine particulate pollution, which are harmful pollutants that come from Western states wildfires and burning fossil fuels such as coal, diesel, gasoline, natural gas and from other sources.
“Clean air is not a prescription any physician can write, yet it is a much needed treatment," said Dr. Neelima Tummala, clinical assistant professor of surgery at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. "While the profound consequences on human health are alarming, what gives me hope is that studies show that improved air quality can mitigate these health effects." Dr. Tummala noted, for example, that studies show that a long-term improvement in air quality can lead to improved lung function in children and decreased incidence of asthma.
The report’s troubling findings come at a time when the federal government is further endangering air quality by dismantling protections under the Clean Air Act.
“The data show that America’s existing air quality standards aren’t doing enough to protect our health,” said Elizabeth Ridlington, Policy Analyst with Frontier Group and co-author of the report. "As the climate warms, higher temperatures and more severe wildfires increase air pollution and the threat to human health."
Recommendations in the report include calling on policymakers at all levels of government to reduce emissions from transportation, support clean renewable energy, and expand climate-friendly transportation options with more transit, bike lanes and walkways. The study also calls on the federal government to strengthen ozone and particulate pollution standards, and support strong clean car standards instead of rolling them back.
“227 days of polluted air in Riverside and 160 days of polluted air in San Diego are unacceptable in modern society. California must prioritize transportation solutions that clean up our air - including more and better sidewalks, protected bike lanes, more public transit options, and electrifying our vehicles,” said Emily Rusch, Executive Director of CALPIRG Education Fund.
“Instead of undermining clean air protections, our government -- at all levels -- should be taking every opportunity to clean up the air we breathe,” said Jacobson “Since transportation is the most polluting sector of our economy, we need to transition to electric cars, buses and transit. ”
Environment California Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. For more information, visit www.environmentcaliforniacenter.org.