Los Angeles has come a long way from its days as a post-war smog bowl.
Strict regulations on manufacturing emissions paired with California laws that changed the auto industry and gave us vehicles with tailpipe output cleaner than an ocean breeze have transformed SoCal air quality. There's a whole generation of Angelenos that can barely remember that hazy, amber fog of yore.
But the whole country has improved along with us, and L.A. is still a smog capital, at least comparatively speaking:
The 15th annual American Lung Association “State of the Air 2014” was released today. According to a Lung Association statement:
Once again, Los Angeles remains the metropolitan area with the worst ozone pollution, a ranking it has held in all but one of the 15 State of the Air reports.
You can still blame our car culture. Ozone primarily comes from tailpipes and factories.
L.A. topped Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, California (No. 2) and Bakersfield (No. 3) on the ozone list. In fact, if it weren't for Central Valley cities, L.A. would also top the association's overall ranking of the “Nation's Most Polluted Cities.”
We're No. 1 in pollution compared to other major metropolitan areas, but smaller cities took the (dubious) prize: The L.A.-Long Beach region (No. 4 on the list) was beat out by such midsize cities as Fresno-Madera (number 1), Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, (2) and Bakersfield (3), the report says.
For the Lung Association's “Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution,” L.A. was once again the top major-metro region but, at number 3 overall, we were again beat by smaller cities, including Fresno-Madera (1), Visalia-Porterville-Hanford (2), and Bakersfield.
L.A.'s ozone is getting worse, according to the association:
Of the 25 metro areas most polluted by ozone, 22 had worse ozone problems. Among those measuring worse ozone problems were Los Angeles, Houston, Washington-Baltimore, Las Vegas, Phoenix, New York City, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
Lung Association CEO Harold Wimmer called the overall data an improvement:
However, this improvement represents only a partial victory. We know that warmer temperatures increase risk for ozone pollution, so climate change sets the stage for tougher challenges to protect human health. We must meet these challenges head on to protect the health of millions of Americans …