Riverside-San Bernardino, California—the nation’s smoggiest metropolitan area—spent more than a third of 2010 subjected to dangerous smog levels, a new analysis by Environment America reveals. In 2010, the city experienced 110 days in which smog levels exceeded current ozone standards and a public health warning was issued.
Yet, the city also experienced an additional 25 days in which smog levels exceeded the latest scientific recommendations that more accurately protect public health. Despite smog levels being above the recommended 60-70 parts per billion range, no public warning was issued on such days as updated EPA standards based on the latest data were recently shelved by President Obama and weak 2008 standards remain in effect.
The analysis, which ranked the nation’s smoggiest cities, found that 5 of the worst cities for air quality were located in California. Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Houston and Atlanta also fell into the top ten worst cities for smog. Like San Bernardino, these cities also experienced days in which smog levels fell into the 60-70 parts per billion range, but no public warning was issued due to current standards requiring a much higher threshold. Washington, D.C., for example, had 17 such days.
EPA scientists have concluded that smog levels reaching the 60-70 parts per billion increases the risk of asthma and respiratory illnesses, leaving children and the elderly particularly vulnerable.