The American Lung Association just released a health report Los Angeles politicians will most probably try to ignore, and hope the public will not notice, but facts are facts: Los Angeles' air quality sucks, and its residents are paying the price.

According to the ALA's “State of the Air 2011” study, Los Angeles ranks number one in the United States with the worst “ozone pollution,” number four with the worst “short-term particle pollution,” and number two with the worst “annual particle pollution.”

“Ozone and particle pollution levels today still contribute to thousands of hospitalizations, emergency room visits and early deaths every year,” says Dr. Sonal Patel, volunteer physician for the American Lung Association in California, in a prepared statement. “We know that air pollution can literally stunt children's lung development.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti, and his 14 colleagues on the City Council also know about the devastating effects of air pollution on the health of children, the sick, and the elderly, but they still refuse to try to remedy the situation.

As L.A. Weekly reported in the 2010 cover story “Black Lung Lofts,” local politicians have long known about scientific studies that show that kids, the infirm, and senior citizens who live near freeways — the site of some of the worst air pollution — are more likely to get horribly sick than people who live farther away from major roadways.

The American Lung Association also points out that “California's pollution problems are primarily driven by high emissions from cars, trucks, buses, fuels, diesel equipment, and other transportation sources.”

Scientists have suggested to L.A. city officials that they should seriously consider creating a buffer zone between, for example, an apartment complex and a freeway. While that zone wouldn't apply to existing dwellings, it could certainly be applicable for future development projects. Local politicians have done nothing.

The American Lung Association's study only further underlines the dangerous health impacts Angelenos face, and the need for some kind of legislative action by the Villaraigosa, Garcetti, and the City Council.

“Air pollution is a serious health threat to all Californians,” says Jane Warner, president of the American Lung Association in California, in a prepared statement. “California has made tremendous improvements in the fight for clean air thanks to the work of the state's strong Air Resources Board and local Air Quality Management Districts but much still needs to be done. Cleaning up pollution results in healthier air. Now is not the time to stop progress.”

We just wonder if anyone at L.A. City Hall is listening.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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