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Los Angeles' Smog Is At Its Worst Levels Since 2009

(Photo by Anthony Samaniego via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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It was just yesterday when we found out that the air in L.A. is potentially deadly. And now we're hearing that L.A.'s smog levels have been exceptionally bad this year. In fact, it hasn't been this horrible in seven years, reports the L.A. Times.

Ozone, the gas in smog that exacerbates asthma and other bad stuff, have exceeded federal standards on 91 days so far this year, according to data from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Last year? The figure was 67 days over the same time period. That's a pretty significant leap. And, so far, every day of August has seen the ozone levels exceed the standard of 70 parts per billion.

The effects are already evident. In the Inland Empire, where the smog is even worst, hospitals have seen a rise in patients coming in with respiratory illnesses. In June and July, Dignity Health Community Hospital of San Bernardino saw a 10 to 15% uptick in patients in the emergency room, many of whom were there for asthma or other conditions exacerbated by the smog.

What's behind it all? Philip Fine, deputy executive officer for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, told the Times that it's due to stagnant weather (i.e. no rain) and the recent high heat we've been experiencing. He added that it's likely not because of increased emissions from cars, because cars have actually been getting cleaner.

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As bad as it is now, our smog levels have actually been better than it had been in the '70s and '80s, when cars were wildly heavy and inefficient (as in, they put out more emissions). But, with global warming trucking along, it's not far-fetched to hypothesize that L.A. will be seeing more of these smog-filled days.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, smog is bad for you in a great deal of ways. It can aggravate asthma, inflame and damage the lining of the lungs, and possibly even lower your immune system's ability to ward off germs. And, as reported at Fox Health, it has been noted that lung cancer patients die sooner if they're living in smoggier areas.

"The best way to protect your health is to find out when ozone levels are elevated in your area and take simple precautions to minimize exposure, even when you don't feel obvious symptoms," the agency said in a report.

The battle against smog has, historically, been a contentious one with far-reaching implications. Currently, Gov. Jerry Brown is advocating a piece of legislature, Senate Bill 32, that would further reduce greenhouse gas emissions through 2030. The bill is facing strong opposition from the oil industry and some freight operators, because of course it would. The opposition says that tighter restrictions on emissions would mean a significant loss of jobs. Proponents argue that, in fact, new jobs would be created in clean energy fields.

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