Southern California gets an 'F' for air quality

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Southern California received a failing grade for air quality and pollution, again.

The "State of the Air" report by the American Lung Association said despite decades of clean-air progress, climate change is making it difficult to continue.

"Climate change impacts that are driving those extreme heat days, that are driving those catastrophic wildfires," said Will Barrett with the American Lung Association. "It really makes the job of the air districts in our state much more difficult cleaning up the air."

The report noted widespread ozone increases from 2015 to 2017 which were the hottest years on record in the United States.

San Bernardino, Riverside, L.A. and Orange counties all received an "F" when it came to unhealthy ozone days and particulate pollution.

Health experts say poor air quality puts everyone at greater risk for premature death and other serious health effects.

"The air is clearer, but I should point out that the incidents of childhood asthma is still increasing," said Dr. David Lo with the UCR School of Medicine/Biomedical Sciences.

Lo runs the BREATHE center at the University of California, Riverside. His says transportation is another big factor impacting air quality.

"Until we electrify the trucks - they are a huge source of diesel exhaust. But because it has such an impact on traffic, you're stuck on the road that much longer, so your car is pumping out more pollution while you're sitting in traffic," said Lo.

But there is a solution.

"Moving away from fossil fuel transportation is one of the most important things we can do for cleaning up the air in Southern California and everywhere," said Barrett.

The American Lung Association report also expressed some concern over the Trump administration's lowering some standards on air quality and also on emissions for cars. The association said rolling back air quality standards could also impact decades of progress.
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