California has made progress in cleaning up air pollution since the first American Lung Association’s State of the Air report 18 years ago, but the state continues to have the most polluted cities in the country. And the Valley continues to rank among the most ozone and soot-filled areas.
Now, climate change and threats to the federal Clean Air Act could derail the progress that has been made, lung association officials said in releasing the State of the Air 2017 report.
“Climate is emerging as a big problem, as it has in the last several years, but something we desperately need to do more about as a nation,” said Janice Nolen, assistant vice president of national policy for the American Lung Association.“We’re going to need every tool of what the Clean Air Act provides to us to make progress.”
Visalia and other Valley communities are really a textbook case of the impact of climate pollution, of climate change on our pollution situation.”
Bonnie Holmes-Gen, American Lung Association in California
Ozone is a summer pollutant in the Valley, and microscopic particle pollution often spikes in the fall and winter. The Fresno-Madera area ranked third for ozone and year-round particle pollution and was California’s second most-polluted city for short-term particle pollution.
The report showed Bakersfield as the second-most polluted city for ozone, behind Los Angeles. It was the dirtiest city for short-term particle pollution and the second-dirtiest for short-term particle pollution. The report covered the years 2013, 2014 and 2015.
The Visalia-Porterville-Hanford area tied with Fresno for second-worst short-term particle pollution and was first for year-round particle pollution.
California’s five-year drought and wildfires contributed to the soot in the air, the association officials said. “Visalia and other Valley communities are really a textbook case of the impact of climate pollution, of climate change on our pollution situation,” said Bonnie Holmes-Gen, senior director for air quality and climate change for the American Lung Association in California.
The Visalia area was the fourth-dirtiest for ozone but showed significant progress in fighting smog. It was one of eight cities to record the fewest average unhealthy days for smog in the 18 years the association has been collecting pollution data on the cities. The other cities were Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Modesto-Merced, El Centro, San Francisco and San Luis Obispo.