American Lung Association Releases Annual Report on Air Quality

Apr 27, 2011, 08:00 ET from American Lung Association in California

Though still home of worst air in U.S., State of the Air 2011 report shows positive trends across California, urges everyone to "take action" for cleaner air

LOS ANGELES, April 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Lung Association released the State of the Air 2011 today, an annual report on air quality which includes lists of both the cleanest and most polluted areas in the country. While the report indicates that California still has some of the worst air in the nation, it also shows continuous progress in reducing ozone and particulate pollution over the past ten years. The findings reinforce the effectiveness of California's stringent clean air laws and the importance of a strong Clean Air Act and a Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which have come under Congressional attack in recent weeks.

"Air pollution is a serious health threat to all Californians," said Jane Warner, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California. "California has made tremendous improvements in the fight for clean air thanks to the work of the state's strong Air Resources Board and local Air Quality Management Districts but much still needs to be done. Cleaning up pollution results in healthier air. Now is not the time to stop progress."

More than 90 percent of Californians still live in counties plagued with unhealthy air, particularly in areas such as the Central Valley, Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, Sacramento, and San Diego. California cities once again dominate lists for the top ten most polluted areas in the nation for ozone (smog) and short-term and annual particle pollution. Specifically, of the top ten cities with the worst air pollution, California ranked as follows:

Ozone Pollution

8 out of the Top 10

Short-Term Particle Pollution

6 out of the Top 10

Annual Particle Pollution

6 out of the Top 10

#1 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside

#1 Bakersfield-Delano

#1 Bakersfield-Delano

#2 Bakersfield –Delano

#2 Fresno-Madera

#2 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside

#3 Visalia-Porterville

#4 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside

#2 Visalia-Porterville

#4 Fresno- Madera

#7 Visalia-Porterville

#5 Hanford-Corcoran

#5 Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City

#9 Hanford-Corcoran

#6 Fresno-Madera

#6 Hanford-Corcoran

#9 Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Yuba City

#10 Modesto

#7 San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos

#9 Merced

Despite these poor rankings, many of these cities continue to show improvements, including reductions in unhealthy days reported in all cities on the ozone list. The positive trends cited in the State of the Air 2011 report show that due in large part to California's advanced vehicle and fuel regulations, the Los Angeles metro area, San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento region, and San Diego have seen marked improvements in reducing air pollution. Beginning Wednesday, April 27, please visit to view these trend charts.

California's pollution problems are primarily driven by high emissions from cars, trucks, buses, fuels, diesel equipment, and other transportation sources. Oil refineries, manufacturing plants, and residential wood burning also are key sources of emissions. In addition, California's warm climate promotes the formation of ozone pollution, and valleys and mountains in the central and eastern portions of the state trap pollution where it can linger for days and put residents at risk for the onset of lung disease.

"Ozone and particle pollution levels today still contribute to thousands of hospitalizations, emergency room visits and early deaths every year. We know that air pollution can literally stunt children's lung development," said Dr. Sonal Patel, volunteer physician for the American Lung Association in California.  "People suffering from asthma and other lung and heart diseases are particularly at risk. Sickness and deaths caused by air pollution not only represent personal tragedies, they also place a huge financial burden on our healthcare system. California needs cleaner air to save lives and prevent costly illnesses."

Even though so many people live in areas where bad air can make them sick, some members of Congress are proposing changes to the federal Clean Air Act that would interfere with efforts to reduce air pollution and protect public health. According to the EPA, the Clean Air Act saved more than 160,000 lives in 2010. Congressional attacks would undermine the Clean Air Act and strip California of its authority to adopt stronger clean car regulations.

"The American Lung Association in California continues to advocate for the Clean Air Act, strong clean air regulations and investment in programs whose aim is to reduce air pollution," said Warner. "We urge all Californians to voice support for the Clean Air Act and to make an effort to reduce air pollution in their communities by driving less, recycling, avoiding wood burning, and using energy efficient appliances."  

To view a full copy of the State of the Air 2011 report, state and regional fact sheets, trend charts, and maps go to

About the American Lung Association

Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is "Fighting for Air" through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit

Media Contact: Maria Bernabe, (213) 384-5864 ext. 243,

SOURCE American Lung Association in California