Non-existent smog – don’t we ALL wish?!

It was back on Nov. 5, 2012 that I wrote the post: “Smog more than an eyesore – it’s a wake-up call.”

Almost six years later, I ask: Is it? I mean, is it, really?!

Here is some of what I conveyed back on that date:

“I know for a fact there are people whose lives have been turned upside down by the harsh and unpleasant reality going by the name ‘air pollution.’”

“The bottom line is that dirty air changes lives in ways that are not so becoming. It makes people sick. And, frankly, people should not have to breathe unsightly and unhealthful air pollution.”

A smoggy New York

A lot of what I wrote then was related to what was going on in California’s San Joaquin Valley. There was at least one reference, however, to the greater Los Angeles region.

Why this is important right here, right now is because, Los Angeles, besides being the nation’s hot-spot for smog, in the L.A. metropolitan area over the summer, preliminarily, smog exceedances occurred a total of 87 days straight.

I have heard all of this talk about how air there has improved. When I see statistics like these, it’s hard to be convinced.

Again, preliminarily, here are related and relevant statistics.

The South Coast Air Basin recorded exceedances for ozone on 87 straight days between Jun. 19 and Sept. 13 of 2018, the standard or threshold set at 70 parts per billion (ppb) of air. The first exceedance was recorded on Mar. 30 with the latest recorded Sept. 28 at the time of this writing. In all, in the South Coast Air Basin for all of this year so far, the ozone standard was breached 136 times. Incidentally, for each entry in the “South Coast Air Basin Daily Max 8 Hr Overlapping Avg Ozone – Natl at Highest Site 2018” chart or table available for viewing at the California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board here, its units is in parts per million or ppm. The highest recorded exceedance: 125 ppb on the 22nd of June.

Meanwhile, the number of exceedances recorded for the South Coast Air Basin in 2017 is 145. Here again, the number is preliminary.

Disturbing is the upward trend since 2015. It just so happens that 154 exceedances were registered in the South Coast region in 2001. The lowest number registered between 1999 and 2018 is 113 in 2015, again, according to ARB data, preliminary, the 2015 number likewise is.

So, what gives? Precisely what I want to know as I’m sure others do also.

For this, I turned to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD).

The SCAQMD issued a related press statement on July 6th. In it, AQMD wrote: “While poor air quality is not unusual during summer months in the Southland, the National Weather Service is predicting a heatwave over the Southwest that will last through the beginning of next week or longer. Those conditions coupled with predicted atmospheric inversions that trap pollution near the surface may cause unusually high and persistent levels of poor air quality.”

A similar press statement was released on Aug. 25, 2017.

Worldwide, meanwhile, significant numbers of morbidities and mortalities are linked to ozone pollution.

The AQMD in its Jul. 6, 2018 press release provides some background. “Ozone air pollution can cause respiratory health problems, including trouble breathing, asthma attacks, and lung damage. Research also indicates that ozone exposure can increase the risk of premature death. Children, older adults, and people with asthma or COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease] may be more sensitive to the health effects of ozone.”

Like I urged in the “Smog more than an eyesore” post and will repeat again here, “Why the discoloration in the air isn’t more alarming to more people is perplexing. Apparently it is not an important-enough concern or people feel loath to do much about trying to correct it – one of the two.”

The bottom line is this: In order for positive change to come about and improvement made to the quality of air by reducing the amount and concentration of ozone pollution in it, plainly and simply, people are just going to have to step up and both demand and work toward that change.

And, on that note, today’s thread’s title definitely bears repeating: “Non-existent smog – don’t we ALL wish?!”

Port of Los Angeles and the Vincent Thomas Bridge

Images: Dr. Edwin P. Ewing, Jr., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (upper); United States Coast Guard, PA3 Louis Hebert (lower)

This post was last revised on Sept. 30, 2018 @ 6:30 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

2 thoughts on “Non-existent smog – don’t we ALL wish?!”

    • Thank you for providing the link.

      Plotted from 1976 on (up to and including year 2016), the presented graph and corresponding table show a trend that is generally downward, meaning the number of days where ozone exceeded the standard are decreasing, whether for the > 120 ppb, the > 80 ppb, the > 75 ppb or > 70 ppb standards.

      But the graph and accompanying table do not tell one all one needs to or should know.

      According to what I have read and understand, the level at which scientists have determined ozone to be at safe levels is 60 ppb or less – the National Ambient Air Quality Standard average measured over an 8-hour time frame. This is a more stringent, tighter health standard, obviously.

      Regardless, there is still ozone present in the Southland region, though I am happy to learn that, generally speaking, the quality of air there is improving.

      That said, there is much room still for achieving even greater success. People should not be satisfied until the air is, for all intents and purposes, clean, clear, safe and healthy to breathe.

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