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Lung Association Ranks San Diego 7th Dirtiest City For Ozone Pollution

Photo by Nathan Rupert

Traffic on I-5 South on April 18, 2009.

A new report from the American Lung Association says San Diego air quality has recently taken a turn for the worse.

San Diego County’s air quality has dramatically improved since the year 2000.

But a new report from the American Lung Association says things have recently taken a turn for the worse.

The latest State of the Air report is based on air quality data collected in 2013-15.

It finds San Diego’s particle pollution has dropped to record lows. Particle pollution includes dust, soot and smoke.

However, the number of unhealthy ozone days has risen the last three years. San Diego now ranks seventh among the nation’s top 10 dirtiest cities for ozone pollution.

Ninety percent of the ozone pollution in San Diego County comes from cars and trucks. But there are some other factors at play, according to Debra Kelley, advocacy director for the American Lung Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties.

"We believe that over the last few years we’ve seen this uptick in ozone levels due to climate change impacts," she said. "We’ve had an extended drought, we’ve had a lot of heat waves, and those tend to increase and accelerate the formation of ozone.”

The report reveals El Centro in Imperial County recorded its lowest number ever for the number of unhealthy days for ozone pollution.

But El Centro ranked seventh in the nation for year-round particle pollution.

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