1. State of the Air 2017 finds that California remains home to some of the worst air pollution in the country, affecting the health of millions of Californians. The Los Angeles, Bakersfield and Visalia metropolitan areas top the list of the most polluted in the country for ozone pollution and particle pollution, with many other California cities among the Top 10 polluted areas.
2. Statewide, over 35 million Californians (91%) live in counties affected by unhealthy air during the year. Almost 17 million Californians live in counties that received three failing grades in State of the Air 2017. At risk populations include children, seniors, those with asthma, COPD, lung cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and disadvantaged communities.
3. There is good news in the 2017 report. Despite remaining challenges, the Federal Clean Air Act and state and local clean air policies are driving steady progress in the fight for clean air, and a number of cities have had their cleanest year yet. Eight cities that saw their lowest ozone averages in any report, including Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Visalia and Sacramento.
4. The air is cleaner today because of the Federal Clean Air Act, California’s groundbreaking clean air and clean energy laws, and local air pollution control programs. California must continue to ramp up investments in zero emission vehicles including electricity and hydrogen, zero emission freight, renewable power, non-polluting residential heating, and more sustainable community planning to reduce air pollution.
5. State of the Air annually highlights the real public health crisis caused by air pollution. Millions of California residents live in polluted areas and are at increased risk for health emergencies. Air pollution can cause asthma attacks and other lung diseases, send people to hospitals and emergency rooms, and even slow the development of children’s lungs.
6. Climate change is impacting California’s fight for healthy air. Climate impacts include warming temperatures, droughts, heat waves and wildfires which can all create conditions for poor air quality and have devastating impacts on lung health. While California experienced a wet winter this year, the report continues to demonstrate the impacts of drought weather conditions slowing progress in reducing particle pollution in the San Joaquin Valley over the past few years. Without continued actions at the local, state, federal and global levels, extreme weather events will become the new normal for California.
7. San Joaquin Valley residents continue to face significant air pollution challenges. The San Joaquin Valley is home to the four the most particle-polluted cities in the United States, and has seen significant challenges in reducing particle pollution. Additionally, despite more steady progress on ozone, residents in three Valley counties face more than 90 unhealthy ozone days per year.
8. All communities deserve healthy air. Many California communities face higher exposures and health risks due to their proximity to freeways, refineries, rail yards, ports, freight corridors and other local soot pollution sources. The Lung Association supports stronger regulations and targeted investments to ensure that all Californians can breathe healthy air where they live, work or go to school.
9. Health leaders support California’s leadership on clean air and climate policies. Health leaders have demonstrated strong support for the Federal Clean Air Act and full implementation of federal programs to control smog, soot and climate pollution. Over 300 health leaders and experts from across the country recently sent a letter expressing strong support for California’s leadership on advanced clean cars and zero emission vehicles and urging stronger standards in the next round. Now is a critical time for state and local elected officials and all Californians to join health leaders in showing strong support for California’s climate targets and the transition to zero emissions to help meet those targets
10. Everyone can make a difference for clean air. Making decisions to drive less, carpool, walk or bike where possible, switch to electric transportation instead of gasoline cars, avoid wood burning and use less energy all contribute to cleaner air.