SAN DIEGO — San Diego County received a failing grade for ozone pollution Wednesday from the American Lung Association, which released its annual State of the Air report.
The “F” came despite significant improvements made in the region since the organization began issuing its report in 2000. For the first time, San Diego County was not in the top 10 worst cities for air pollution in any category.
“San Diego residents can certainly be proud of the tremendous progress made in cleaning up the air since the first State of the Air report 16 years ago,” said Dr. Atul Malhotra, volunteer physician for the American Lung Association in California, and president elect of the American Thoracic Society. “However, there’s still more work to be done to make our air healthy for everyone to breathe.”
The association noted that despite progress, San Diegans still have to put up with occasional air pollution traveling south from Los Angeles or north from Mexico.
The number of unhealthy ozone days in San Diego dropped from 80 in 2000 to nine in this year’s report. Unhealthy days for particulates fell from 24 to two.
The American Lung Association reported that the Los Angeles-Long Beach- Riverside region was the worst area in the U.S. for ozone. Most of the other most polluted communities were in California’s Central Valley, including Fresno, Bakersfield, Modesto and Merced.
The major sources of air pollution in the state were vehicles, ships, trains, agricultural equipment, oil refineries, manufacturing plants, residential wood burning and wildfires, according to the association.
The cleanest cities for ozone were Bellingham, Washington, and Bend, Oregon. For particulates, the best were Prescott, Arizona; Farmington, New Mexico; and Alexandria, Louisiana.