L.A is the capital of many things. Few of them are good things. At least not lately, it seems.

A day after it was announced that Los Angeles is America's traffic-congestion Mecca once again (breaking news, that), we bring you the American Lung Association's annual “Most Polluted Cities” list:

Yes, Los Angeles is a wiener.

The L.A.-Long Beach-Riverside metro area topped the list, beating out such other fresh-air capitals, most in our own state, as Visalia (2), Bakersfield (3), Fresno (4), and Hanford (5).

Of course, many of those Central Valley towns have air pollution by way of cow farts. But we digress …

You insist that L.A.'s air has cleaned up nicely since the dark days of decades past. Correct. But, as the Association points out, much of urban American has also cleaned up its act, leaving us in the comparative dust:

The American Lung Association's annual 'State of the Air' report finds that air quality nationwide continues the long-term trend to much healthier air. The strongest progress came in lower levels of year-round particle pollution across much of the nation.

The Association says we rank numero uno for “high ozone days” (we had 277 of them last year), fourth for 24-hour particle pollution and fourth for annual particle pollution.

So pat yourself on the back. And look at this top 20 and see if you can pick out the cities not in California:

Credit: Al Pavangkanan / Flickr

Credit: Al Pavangkanan / Flickr

#1: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA

#2: Visalia-Porterville, CA

#3: Bakersfield-Delano, CA

#4: Fresno-Madera, CA

#5: Hanford-Corcoran, CA

#6: Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Yuba City, CA-NV

#7: Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, TX

#8: Dallas-Fort Worth, TX

#9: Washington-Baltimore-Northern Virginia, DC-MD-VA-WV

#10: El Centro, CA

#11: San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA

#11: Merced, CA

#13: Modesto, CA

#14: Cincinnati-Middletown-Wilmington, OH-KY-IN

#14: Birmingham-Hoover-Cullman, AL

#16: Las Vegas-Paradise-Pahrump, NV

#17: Louisville-Jefferson County-Elizabethtown-Scottsburg, KY-IN

#17: New York-Newark-Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA

#19: Charlotte-Gastonia-Salisbury, NC-SC

#20: Oklahoma City-Shawnee, OK

Why should you care? It's bad for you. A recent University of Michigan study found a link between pollution and hardening of the arteries.

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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