Jennifer Mayer, Instructor
Californias Pollution Problem It seems as if we are always facing issues and tough challenges here in the beautiful Golden State known as California. The issues vary vastly, from the on going drought, poverty, educational problems, health care, environmental problems, jobs, unemployment rates, and so on. This list can go on. Aside of all these issues, California has been struggling with one specific issue which is our air quality and pollution. To narrow it down even more, this issue is huge here in our central valley of California. The devastating part is that out of the top ten most polluted cities in the U.S. , seven are in California. This seven cities are Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Visalia, Fresno, Modesto, Madera, and Sacramento. Out of those seven, five are in the Central Valley. Why is it that California is amongst the worst in the U.S.?
As of today, California is on the ALA’s (American Lung Association) “worst” list when it comes to pollution. The ALA released a list of the top ten most polluted cities in America and amongst those ten, six of the cities are in California. The ALA says that, “Despite decades of progress, California cities continue to dominate the lists of the ten most polluted cities in America for ozone (smog) and short and long-term particulate pollution” (1). These cities are Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Visalia, Fresno, Modesto, and Sacramento. Out of these six cities Los Angeles takes the lead in ozone pollution and Fresno-Madera takes the lead in particle pollution.
According to the ALA ozone pollution and particle pollution are the two most harmful pollutants to humans. Ozone is a chemical reaction created when sunlight and vapors emitted by the burning of carbon based or fuels come together. Ozone pollution is highest during the sunniest months which are May through October. The reason why Ozone is severely dangerous is because it inflicts quite the damage to the human body. Exposure to ozone causes rapid effects that can be felt immediately such as irritation to the skin and the respiratory system. For long term exposure the damage is more extreme. It can impair the lung function, cause inflammation to the lung lining, and higher rates of pulmonary disease.
Particle Pollution is just as dangerous as ozone pollution. This type of pollution can come from solid and liquid particles made up of ash, metals, soot, diesel exhaust, and chemicals. California has a lot of the components that produce particle pollution. All the agriculture particles in the central valley attribute to this on a huge scale along with all the plants and vehicular use in California. The health risks oft particle pollution are a little more extreme. This pollutant can cause heart attacks, strokes, irregular heart rates and this being is low concentrations. Lung cancer, premature birth, and shorter life spans are also connected to exposure to particle pollution.
We should all be concerned about this before it only gets worse. Especially knowing how much damage it causes to the human body. Not only that, but what about our younger generation, or for those of us that have children. Children are actually at greater risk than adults when exposed to these air pollutions and bad air qualities. The reason for that being is because children and infants breathe a lot faster than adults, which increases their exposure to pollution. Children also tend to spend more time out doors then adults, especially during the summer when ozone and particle pollutions are there highest levels. Dr. Alexander Sherrifs, who is a family physician in Fowler and also a member of the local air quality board concluded this current situation saying that “[w]e’re sitting in the soup, and its not a healthy one”(1) All this contact to pollution can lead to a lot more horrifying risk in a child's life and have serious repercussions later on in life and to us adults as well.
The bad air