6 California Cities Marked With Horrible Air Quality…. Which Number Is Bakersfield? Find Out Here!

A combination of unfortunate topography, a large population, and the realities of worsening climate change makes California cities some of the worst places to breathe air in America.

Eight of the 10 cities with the highest year-round concentration of particulate matter—or PM2.5—between 2013 and 2015 were in California, according to the report. The state is also home to seven of the 10 American cities with the worst ozone pollution. Both PM2.5 and ozone are linked to an long list of health problems, including asthma, lung cancer, premature death, and developmental delays in children.

Most polluted metropolitan regions by average year-round concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5)

  1. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, CA
  2.  Bakersfield, CA
  3.  Fresno-Madera, CA
  4. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA
  5. Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
  6. Modesto-Merced, CA
  7. El Centro, CA
  8. Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, PA-OH-WV
  9. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, OH
  10. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles- Arroyo Grande, CA

Six of the top 10 cities with the biggest problem with unhealthy spikes in PM2.5 are in California, too. A “spike” is defined as a day when the concentration of PM2.5 rises above the limit set by the US Environmental Protection Agency for acceptably healthy air.
Most polluted metropolitan areas by dangerous “spikes” in particulate matter (PM2.5)

  1.  Bakersfield, CA
  2. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, CA
  3. Fresno-Madera, CA
  4. Modesto-Merced, CA
  5. Fairbanks, AK
  6. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA
  7. Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, UT
  8. Logan, UT-ID
  9. Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
  10. Reno-Carson City-Fernley, NV

Bakersfield, California remains the most polluted city in America in terms of spikes in particulate matter, with Visalia, Fresno, and Modesto-Merced coming in second, third, and fourth. All four cities are in California’s Central Valley, where PM2.5 is made abundant by the high volume of oil and gas drilling and diesel engines in the area.

The Central Valley is also topographically cursed—it’s shaped like a bowl, so pollution is often trapped, unable to disperse, causing concentrations to rise to ever more unhealthy levels, according to Billings. Los Angeles, similarly, is stuck in a topographic bowl, which helped to land it at number one on a list of the most ozone-polluted cities in America (on that list, Bakersfield came in second).

Most polluted cities by ozone pollution

  1. Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA
  2. Bakersfield, CA
  3. Fresno-Madera, CA
  4. Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, CA
  5. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
  6. Modesto-Merced, CA
  7. San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
  8. Sacramento-Roseville, CA
  9. New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA
  10. Las Vegas-Henderson, NV-AZ

 

Both Los Angeles and the Central Valley cities are prone to “ozone inversions” due to that topography, where warmer air floats above cooler air, forming a sort of atmospheric lid that keeps the air stagnant and prevents pollution from exiting the area. Agriculture, too, can contribute to ozone: the prevalence of certain pesticides containing volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, a precursor to ozone formation, pose another problem for the agriculture-rich Central Valley.

Climate change is making all this worse—it means more severe periods of drought, and more hot, dry days mean more ozone formation. Climate change also creates prime conditions for more extreme wildfires, which produce both PM2.5 and the elements needed to form ozone.

Obama Takes Action On Drought In California

Drought

According to Alice Hill, presidential aide on the climate issue, about 12,5% of the continental U.S. was facing a problem of drought as of March. It means that over 39 million people which is one eighth of the population of the country, experiencing drought. The states that suffer the most are those in the West. For instance, California is going through its 5th year of fighting with draught.

On Monday Obama issued a presidential memorandum and separate action plan. It sets the goals for the federal government: to share information about the risks that drought brings with authorities of all levels, starting with regional and ending with tribal, and to improve the organization of draught-related activities.

Among many negative draught effects are energy costs increasing, effects on the economy, infrastructure and food supply. Because of the climate change, drought conditions are expected to become even worse, so fighting the change is one of the main priorities for Obama.

Hill says that the draught will become a bigger challenge due to the climate change and that is why a more comprehensive strategy of using existing resources to deal with the draught is required.

Last year Obama met with leaders from California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Oregon and Wyoming and $110 million were pledged by federal agencies to help them fight the draught.

On Tuesday, which is also World Water Day, there will be a “water summit” in the White House. The goal is to raise awareness of how important reliable and safe water resources are.

The initiatives on drought were released during Obama’s visit to Havana.

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