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Air Pollution Remains a Problem in California

Forty-four percent of Americans are breathing unsafe air, according to the American Lung Association. 

| BY Kent McDill

In its annual State of the Air report, the American Lung Association lets us know that the percent of Americans living in areas with dangerous levels of ozone or particle pollution has gone down to 44 percent.

Unfortunately, that is still very close to half of all Americans living in dangerous conditions, or 138.5 million Americans. Last year’s 47 percent was closer to half, of course.

The ALA says America’s air has been getting cleaner since the enactment of stricter air regulations in the 1970s.

In its new report, looking at air quality data from 2011 to 2013, the ALA said many cities experienced a record number of days with high levels of particle pollution, and those particles have been linked to serious health problems. Some cities, including San Francisco, Phoenix, Reno and Yakima, Wash., recorded their highest weighted average number of unhealthy particle pollution days since the American Lung Association started keeping statistics on that measurement 11 years ago.

But what’s most important is identifying the most polluted city in regards to ozone, and that is Los Angeles, which remained No. 1 even though it had its best three-year period since the first report came out 16 years ago. The next four cities are also in California: Visalia, Bakersfield, Fresno and Sacramento. The first non-California city on the list is No. 6 Dallas-Fort Worth, followed by Modesto, Calif., Las Vegas and Phoenix.

The ALA could not get data from Chicago. St. Louis or Atlanta due to data lab problems.

Of the cities measured, the top seven worst cities for year-round particle pollution were in California. At No. 8 in that category was the Cincinnati area, then Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

The ALA tries to emphasize the good news when it issues the bad. The cleanest city for ozone is Bellingham, Wash., and the cleanest city for year-round particle pollution is Prescott, Ariz.

About the Author

Kent McDill

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.