American Lung Association 'State of the Air' report: LA-area has nation's worst ozone, but quality is improving

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The American Lung Association had both good and bad news for southern California Wednesday in its annual State of the Air report. The bad news: three area cities have the nation's highest combined ozone levels, and along with Bakersfield and Fresno, rank among the worst in the nation for particulate pollution. The good news: the report said that the L.A. area has reduced ozone and particulate pollution to their lowest levels since the Lung Association began measuring them.

Los Angeles, Long Beach and Riverside together earned the notorious distinction as the region with the worst ozone levels in the nation for the latest three-year period measured by the report, 2009 to 2011.

RELATED: California pollution map: LA has 3 of the most polluted ZIP codes

Ozone, a major component of smog, forms when emissions from cars and other sources combine with warm temperatures.  It’s blamed for such problems as asthma attacks, respiratory infections and premature death. 

The three cities together also ranked among the worst in the nation -- along with Bakersfield and Fresno  -- for the highest-levels of particulate pollution. That's the stuff created by things like road dust, fires and car exhaust.  Exposure to particulate pollution  can bump up your risk for asthma, heart disease, and lung cancer.

But there is reason to celebrate, despite those dismal national rankings.  The Lung Association says the greater L.A. area has steadily reduced both particulate and ozone pollution  to their lowest levels since the organization began its State of the Air report in 2000.   

State of the Air 2013_full Report_clean

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