The American Lung Association just issued the latest air pollution report, and things aren’t looking good for us Californians — that, is when we can actually see through the smog. Along with CA, a few states seem to monopolize the bulk of the country’s pollution — but rather than re-distribute this “wealth,” I think it’s time to clean it up.
Here are the most-polluted cities in the United States, according to ozone levels, starting with the worst:
- Los Angeles, CA (including Long Beach and Riverside)
- Visalia/Porterville, CA
- Bakersfield/Delano, CA
- Fresno/Madera, CA
- Hanford/Corcoran, CA
- Sacramento/Arden/Arcade/Yuba City, CA/NV
- Houston/Baytown/Huntsville, TX
- Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
- Washington/Baltimore/Northern Virginia, DC/MD/VA/WV
- El Centro, CA
The numbers change slightly with different types of pollution, including year-round and short-term particle levels, but the golden state dominates the top five in all categories.
What causes this floating mess in California? According to Discover Magazine, it has a lot to do with our giant port, an entryway for gargantuan ships that transport all those cheap goods from China and Taiwan. California is also the ninth-largest economy in the world, so there’s massive industry — which comes with massive pollution. We also have the highest car-per-person ratio on the planet, with nearly two cars for each household.
In other states, pollution stems from vehicle emissions, power plants, manufacturing plants and pesticides dusted onto crops.
These problems seem quite fixable — buy (organic) American products, support companies that use clean energy, and drive (way) less — and our health may depend on it. Pollution causes asthma, and reduces lung function even in healthy adults. It can also contribute to heart disease and cancer. Besides, who wants to breathe smelly air and see the moon through an orange fog? I’ll trade my car for clear skies, thank you very much.
Image by kris krüg