According to recent reports by the American Lung Association, California tops one of the most polluted states in the US. The reports which are usually collated from an annual study ranks the most polluted and cleanest states and cities in the country. This study is done by grading different counties around the US on recorded harmful levels of ozone and particle pollution. The data collected from 2014 to 2016 was used to generate the “State of the Air 2018” report.
The worst regions which topped counties with the most smog levels were Los Angeles, Bakersfield, and Fresno. Regardless of all the efforts put in by the state to curb air pollution, a good number of residents are still exposed to unhealthy air at some point in the year. No doubt, air pollution has a terrible effect on everyone’s health, but the most affected are low-income communities, senior citizens, children, and those with underlying health issues when the ozone level and particle pollution level increases.
Compared to wealthy people, low-income earners suffer the most as they usually tend to live close railways, freeways, transportation hubs, freeways, and various air polluting sources due to cheap and affordable rental rates in these areas. Those who earn low incomes are more likely to face challenges in respect to protecting themselves from polluted air. They can barely afford an air-condition so they would most likely open up their windows during a smoggy day, or ride a bike, stand at the waiting bus area on smoggy streets as they don’t have a car. Often, the poor have a hard time accessing preventative health care.
On the effect air pollution has on children; children raised in polluted environments will more likely develop less lung capacity compared to those living in healthy air environments. As these children get older, their lungs get more vulnerable to health problems.
Pollution in California is majorly due to its temperate climate, and a large population which causes polluted accumulated air in some areas. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that California’s population increased to 39.2 million from 15.8 million in 2016. What this means is more people falling ill, several people with heart diseases, lung diseases, more visits to the ER, and more time off work or businesses.
One of the keys to lowering the levels of pollution is by implementing eco-friendly air regulations, the rise in the use of electric vehicles (EV) and other renewable energy sources have helped in the improvement of the air quality in the state.
In 1970, the federal Clean Air Act was passed. The Act addressed emissions resulting from the hazardous polluted air. Researchers also linked ailments like asthma, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and premature death to be the effect of air pollution.
The irony of this is that California’s environmental regulations are one of the strictest in the U.S., but ensuring these regulations take full effect has been a constant challenge given the rise in the population.
Ozone is a reactive gas produced by the split in the molecules of the sun’s ray. This byproduct occurs due to the numerous cars on the roads and sunny weather. When there’s a rise in the ozone levels, it is the many cars and the sunlight that causes it. Los Angeles is very susceptible to these increased ozone layers due to its climate and geography. The more the temperature on the ozone level increases, the more the ozone level gets worse.
Suggestions from the American Lung Association to reduce air pollution include driving less (walk, bike or carpool) whenever you can, using electric vehicles, use less energy, and avoid wood burning.
The Low – Emission Vehicle Program that reduces the risk for diesel engines and vehicles, and controls pollution at Long Beach and Los Angeles ports have been implemented.
California has also adopted the strongest regulations and control for methane and other toxic gases from oil and gas facilities. The new methane regulations are a step in the right direction as it helps in protecting the climate and residents living close to oil and gas infrastructures.
The oil & gas industry needs strict enforcement of rules in other to limit the damage to various surrounding communities and the already declining ozone levels while transitioning to a renewables-based economy.
Another way to greatly reduce environmental pollution in California is to decrease the reliance on fossil fuels. Installing a solar panel should be encouraged as itis a step in the right direction towards a greener future. Unlike fossil fuels, solar panels do not give off harmful emissions. In coming years, California will experience intense droughts, extreme hurricanes and storms, and more deadly heat waves according to a recent study. Taking steps to reduce carbon emissions can help in stabilizing weather patterns.
For this to happen, more Californians must consider the option of going solar by turning away from fossil fuels and installing solar panels in their homes and offices. We all need to do our quota by not contributing to the present climate.