California's Air Quality (Hint: Not So Good)

Economist Most Polluted CitiesTop 5 Most Polluted American Cities are in California

by Brian Leubitz

This is actually pretty old news, but I bumped upon a chart from the Economist and thought it worth going back over.  You'll see from the chart to the right, which is a comparison of the cities with the worst air quality from several nations, that our representative is Bakersfield.  Perhaps it is not surprising, considering Bakersfield's unfortunate geography for such matters. It is in a valley that gets the particulates from Los Angeles. Combined with the hot weather and wind patterns, and you get a pretty nasty mix.  

Efforts to reduce the pollution have been pretty successful over the last decade, but there is obviously still a lot of work to be done. Compared to Beijing, Bakersfield might as well be the pristine air of a remote outpost.

But if you look at a recent top 10 list of most polluted cities, Californians likely won't be surprised at the top 5 (CNN Money):

1. Bakersfield

2. Hanford

3. LA

4. Visalia

5. Fresno

Now, three of those cities are basically sharing the same air. Hanford is less than twenty miles from Visalia, and both are under an hour south from Fresno by car. But the pollution that the residents of these towns live with on a daily basis is still just as real. Southern California families deserve to live with clean air.

Clearly we can do more to clean up our air, and at the same time reduce some of the massive expenditures on childhood asthma treatment and other pollution related health problems.  We can't correct for every climatic problem, but we can do better to reduce some of those symptoms.  We've done well reducing pollution over the last decade, the next will hopefully be even more successful.

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