SAN DIEGO (CNS) - San Diego County had the sixth-highest rate of ozone pollution in the country from 2015 to 2017, according to data released Wednesday by the American Lung Association.
The data comes from the ALA's 2019 State of the Air Report, an annual study of air quality and pollution in cities across the country. The report found that ozone and particle pollution reached record highs in multiple cities during the observed three-year stretch.
California had 10 of the top-25 most polluted regions by ozone pollution, as well as the eight of the top 11. The Los Angeles and Long Beach region topped the list of highest ozone pollution for the 19th time since the ALA began publishing the report 20 years ago.
San Diego County was one of 17 regions among the top-25 to see an increase in their average number of days with high ozone days over the ALA's 2018 report, which covered 2014-2016. Because of its high pollution rate, the ALA gave San Diego an ``F'' for its air quality.
The ALA measured ozone pollution by using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Air Quality Index.
``We must confront the reality that climate change is making the job of cleaning our air much more difficult,'' said Will Barrett, ALA's director of clean advocacy in California. ``We need our leaders to ensure all Californians benefit from sustainable development, zero emission transportation options and the transition away from fossil fuels to protect public health.''
The ALA noted that the three observed years are the hottest on record, with 2016 being the warmest globally. While 2018 was only the fourth-hottest year on record, San Diego County still saw record summer high temperatures, including a stretch of 17 days last July with an average temperature of 80 degrees or higher.
In total, the ALA found that roughly 40 percent of people in the U.S. live in counties with unhealthy air quality or ozone pollution. That total -- 141.1 million people -- is an increase of 7.2 million since the ALA published its last State of the Air Report.