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San Diego Smog Among The Nation’s Worst

Traffic on a San Diego freeway is shown in this file photo, Nov. 22, 2011.

Photo by Associated Press

Above: Traffic on a San Diego freeway is shown in this file photo, Nov. 22, 2011.

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A new American Lung Association report finds San Diego is the sixth smoggiest city in the country and the number of unhealthy ozone days is going up.

Aired: April 25, 2019 | Transcript

California cities claimed seven of the top 10 spots in the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report.

San Diego is the sixth smoggiest city.

American Lung Association officials said local air quality has been declining in the past five years. The Association’s Deborah Kelly says the number of smoggy days in San Diego is up 42% over the past five years.

The number of unhealthy ozone days in 2014 was 26. That number climbed to 45 this year.

The increase comes after the number of high ozone days steadily fell for 15 years.

Lung Association officials said climate change makes things worse. The nearly three years of data covered in the report came during some of the hottest temperatures in global history.

“The hotter it is, the more ozone is made, the faster it is made. The worse our air quality gets and of course, the impacts of climate change just get that much worse,” said Debra Kelley, of the American Lung Association in California, San Diego.

Los Angeles, Visalia and Bakersfield are the top three cities. Fresno at 4, Sacramento at 5 and San Jose at 8 are the other California cities that made the list.

Phoenix at No. 7, Houston at No. 9 and New York at No. 10 rounded out the smoggy list.

Smog is created when carbon emissions, typically from cars and trucks, is mixed with nitrogen oxides and is then heated by the sun. The pollution can make it hard to breathe and damages the lungs.

Tougher pollution rules can help and preserve California’s right to set stronger pollution standards for cars is key.

“Those tailpipe emission standards, which are making a bad situation, less bad, are under assault from the federal government and Donald Trump. We currently are in litigation. If we lose that litigation, we are talking about 100s of millions of cubic tons of new pollution that will enter California. We have to stop the damage and stop the bleeding and then we have to take decisive action to make it better,” said Nathan Fletcher, San Diego County supervisor and member of the State Air Resources Board.

El Centro also got some negative attention in the report. The Imperial County city is the nation’s eighth worst city for year-round particle pollution, which can cause a number of health problems like asthma.

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