If someone asked you to guess which city in the United States has the highest level of year-round particle pollution you probably wouldn’t guess Bakersfield, California, but it does, according to the American Lung Association.
In fact, California cities occupy the five worst rankings on the organization’s list. Bakersfield’s location between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the California coastal ranges makes it a virtual smog trap that catches pollution drifting down from nearby cities such as Fresno, which happens to be fifth on the list. The region’s dry weather also makes matters there even worse.
Los Angeles is ranked third worst for particle pollution, but is also listed as the most ozone-polluted city, attributed mainly to road pollution and its ports, which receive 43 percent of all U.S. imports. Outside of California, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is the next most particle polluted metropolis.
What will it take to get California to clean up its air?
Bonnie Holmes-Gen, executive director, Air Quality and Health, American Lung Association in California
Herb Benham, feature columnist, Bakersfield Californian
Sam Atwood, spokesman, South Coast Air Quality Management District