Who Wants to Live in California?

Air pollution is a big problem for many California cities

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) California needs to clean up its act. Air quality findings by the American Lung Association (ALA) saw California cities dominating the top of the lists for three significant categories.

Millions of Californians are breathing in some rather unhealthy air year-round.

The ALA evaluated cities and its inhabitants based on three categories of air pollution. Researchers looked at short-term particle pollution (24-hour PM), year-round particle pollution and ozone-pollution.

Unfortunately for California, many of their cities were at the top of the lists for all three categories. This means that many Californians are at risk of lung issues as well as worsening allergy and asthma symptoms.

"Ask your doctor about state-sponsored asthma programs."

There were six California cities in the top 10 “People at Risk In 25 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-term Particle Pollution (24-hour PM),” five cities in the top 10 “People at Risk In 25 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution (Annual PM),” and nine cities in the top 10 for “People at Risk In 25 Most Ozone-Polluted Cities.” 

24-hour PM is the amount of dirt, dust, and other particles in the air during a given 24-hour period. The most polluted city was Bakersfield-Delano, CA. Fresno-Madera, CA, Hanford-Corcoran, CA, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA and Modesto, CA, rounded out the top five.

The air pollution affects over 20 million Californians on any given day.

For Annual-PM, which takes the overall air particle pollution into account, the most polluted city was again, Bakersfield-Delano, CA. Hanford-Corcoran, CA, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA, Visalia-Porterville, CA and Fresno-Madera, CA, were the next most polluted cities.

These numbers are not just skewed by big cites like Los Angeles accounting for more air pollution. The New York-Newark-Bridgeport region, which features over 22 million citizens, did not rank in the top 25 for either 24-hour PM or Annual-PM.

The only city to have a similar performance as the California cities was Pittsburgh-New Castle, PA. The Pennsylvania city was the sixth most polluted city for 24-hour PM and Annual-PM. It was the 20th most ozone-polluted city.

A California city, again takes the top spot with Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside, CA, being the most ozone-polluted city. Repeat offenders, Visalia-Porterville, CA, Bakersfield-Delano, CA, Fresno-Madera, CA and Hanford-Corcoran, CA were ranked as the top five most ozone-polluted cities.

Things are even worse this time around as nine out the top cities were from California. Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City, CA-NV, San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA, Houston-Baytown-Huntsville, TX, San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA and Merced, CA complete the top 10.

These results are especially troubling for the many Californians suffering from Asthma. For Bakersfield-Delano, CA, which was first in 24-hour PM and Annual-PM, 44,572 adults have asthma and asthma affects 16,855 of children under the age of 18.

Breathing in dust, dirt and traffic-related pollution can worsen asthma symptoms and possibly trigger an asthma attack.

The findings were published in a report by the American Lung Association.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
April 30, 2012
Last Updated:
April 30, 2012