Foul Air Plagues Southland


LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Southland went nearly three months without a day of clean air this summer, it was reported today.

The region has violated federal smog standards for 87 consecutive days, the longest stretch of bad air in at least 20 years, state monitoring data show, according to the Los Angeles Times. The streak is the latest sign that Southern California's battle against smog is faltering after decades of dramatic improvement.

The ozone pollution spell began June 19 and continued through July and August, with every day exceeding the federal health standard of 70 parts per billion somewhere across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, The Times reported. It didn't relent until Sept. 14, when air pollution dipped to “moderate” levels within federal limits for ozone, the lung-damaging gas in smog that triggers asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

It's not unusual for Southern California summers to go weeks without a break in the smog, especially in inland communities that have long suffered the nation*s worst ozone levels. But environmentalists and health experts say the persistence of dirty air this year is a troubling sign that demands action.

“The fact that we keep violating and having this many days should be a wake-up call,” Michael Kleeman, a UC Davis professor of civil and environmental engineering who studies air pollution, told The Times.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District, which is responsible for cleaning pollution across the region of 17 million people, said that consecutive bad air days is an inappropriate way to gauge progress curbing ozone, that this smog season was not as severe as last year's and had fewer “very unhealthy” days, The Times reported.

“By all accounts this year is not great, but it's a little better than last year,” Philip Fine, deputy executive officer for the South Coast air district, told The Times.

Photo: Getty Images


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