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Southern California Wins Most Polluted Air In The Country Award

Hollywood through the smog (Photo by Reginald Stanley via LAist Featured Photos pool) on Flickr
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We've long known that the air quality in Southern California is far from perfect, but according to a new report from the American Lung Association, we've now topped the list for most polluted air in the country for the second year in a row.

The "State of the Air 2015" report, issued today, lists the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside region as having the worst ozone pollution problem in the nation and the fifth worst year-round and short term particle pollution.

Exposure to high levels of particle and ozone pollution places Los Angeles County residents at an increased risk for asthma attacks, lung cancer, heart attacks and other serious health issues. Some SoCal residents are at a higher risk of health hazards than others. However, those Angelenos with pre-existing conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and asthma, as well as children and the elderly, are at a higher risk than others. The report also emphasizes that those living closest to highways, busy roads and other pollution sources, as well as those living in low-income areas or working outdoors are particularly at risk.

And while the report reveals that Los Angeles and Southern California at large have made great improvements to air quality in recent years, the ongoing drought and pollution 'hot spots' continue to increase particle pollution levels in the region, according to CBS LA.

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“The State of the Air 2015 report shows that California’s clean air laws and initiatives are working,” said Olivia Gertz, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California. “However, over 70 percent of Californians—28 million residents—live in counties plagued with unhealthy air during certain parts of the year."

If Los Angeles hopes to finally move down the list of most polluted cities, the report recommends stronger air quality standards and increased monitoring of major pollution sources: freeways, major roadways, ports, rail yards, and trucking centers. The American Lung Association also encourages a renewed focus on zero-emission vehicles and fuels, as well as improved community planning to increase access to public transportation, walking and biking.