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Home > Natural Resources > Air Quality Resources, Compliance and Solutions

Health, Air Quality and Smog in Southern California

Cutting levels of smog-precursor emissions and diesel particulates in half by 2010 will improve public health for all those who live in California.

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Why Achieving the 50 percent Goal Matters

While cutting levels of smog-precursor emissions and diesel particulates in half by 2010 will require substantial commitment from state leaders and the public, this investment will reap returns in improved public health and quality of life for all those who live, work, and grow up in the state of California. Without taking this step, severe pollution levels will continue to threaten public health in the state:


  • In 2003, 120 pounds of smog pollution were emitted by manmade sources for each resident of the state of California—equivalent to 5,900 tons per day.
  • Nine of the 10 counties nationwide with the worst ozone levels are located in California.
  • 5.5 million of the state’s children live in areas with air quality that fails federal health standards for ozone. Pediatric asthma has skyrocketed in recent years, and recent studies have documented that exposure to ozone not only exacerbates asthma, but also can actually cause children to develop asthma.

Diesel Particulates

  • In 2000, manmade sources emitted 28,000 tons of diesel particulates statewide.
  • Californians face a significant elevated cancer risk from breathing outdoor air with high levels of diesel particulates. Exposure to diesel particulates—if it continues at current levels—will cause 16,000 additional lifetime cancers in California.
U.S. power plants—the nation’s largest industrial source of air pollution—meet modern pollution standards. Nearly three-quarters of all power plant boilers are over 30 years old and most continue to operate without modern pollution control technology. These older plants release 99% of the sulfur dioxide (SO2), 98% of nitrogen oxides (NOx), and 91% of carbon dioxide (CO2) from power plants. SO2 and NOx form soot and smog pollution, and CO2 is the leading global warming pollutant.

Source: Environment California

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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