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L.A. air fails yet again
Posted May 18, 2007

The air today seems less brown then it did nearly 10 years ago.

Restrictions on pollution in Southern California are becoming stricter, but according to the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report, Los Angeles County still has the highest ozone and particulate pollution levels.

As of today we still fail health regulations and standards.

California has improv.ed the most with 32 counties dropping in particle pollution levels over the year.

“Majority of this particle pollution is from mobile sources such as cars, ships, trucks, anything that is powered by fossil fuels,” said Tine Cherry, media spokeswoman for the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

With the metropolitan Los Angeles population touching the borderline of 18-million people, nearly 28-percent of that consists of people under the age of 18-years-old at risk.

“I have been dealing with asthma all my life and it sucks that I can’t go out just like a normal person and work out on a regular basis,” said San Dimas resident Pamela Levy. “I am always having to watch how clear the air is before I work out outside.”

A little over one million people have asthma, 500,000 with chronic bronchitis and 200,000 with emphysema.

According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), the only authorities that can make a change are the government.

At this moment there is a regional agency that is working on controlling emissions of stationary object such as dry cleaning facilities, production plants and refineries. Here, there is a program set-up through the government to help give an incentive funding to help control emissions and to improve equipment to improve this situation.

Since there is no authoritative control over mobile sources such as cars, ships, trucks and lawn mowers, programs have been set-up to allow people to convert machinery to help fight against pollution.

According to AQMD, one such program is known as the Carl Moyer program. Here residents are allowed to bring their gas-powered lawn mowers to a certain location to exchange for a battery-operated mower.

Each exchange is valued at $400 but for just $100 each resident can receive a brand-new battery operated lawn mower.

The program is currently in its fifth year and has exchanged about 4,000 lawn mowers to date.

On the American Lung Association Web site (www.lungusa.org) there is a list of 10-ways to protect yourself from this polluted air.

Ways to protect yourself:

  • Walk, bike or carpool
  • Fill up your gas tank after dark
  • Check daily air quality levels and air pollution forecasts in your area
  • Don’t burn wood or trash
  • Get involved in your community’s plans to help stop air pollution
  • Use hand-powered or electric lawn care equipment rather than gasoline-powered
  • Tell the EPA we need ozone standards that really protect our health
  • Avoid exercising outdoors when pollution levels are high.
  • Encourage your child’s school to reduce school bus emissions
  • Contact your local American Lung Association

“I have been to other states and the air is obviously cleaner,” said Jimmy Hernandez, an avid exerciser. “I have noticed that I can work out longer when I am in clean air, but California I find myself trying to catch my breath a lot more.”

Experts say the air is slowly getting better but it is still not perfect. If everyone pitches in a little and tweaks their lifestyle, then Los Angeles County will move closer to the goal of passing standards and regulations.

Allison Farole can be reached at afarole@ulv.edu.