NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Lung Association Claims California Has Dirtiest Air

May 1, 2002

Californians are exposed to some of the highest levels of ozone pollution in the country, according to the American Lung Association (ALA).

  • The Los Angeles area is the most heavily ozone-polluted metro area in the country -- followed by Bakersfield, Fresno and the Visalia-Tulare-Porterville areas of California.
  • The Houston-Galveston area ranks fifth among the worst 25 metro areas.
  • The report claims more than 142 million Americans are living in areas where they breathe unhealthy amounts of smog.
  • Authors of the report contend the nation's air is not showing signs of improvement.

Dr. H. Sterling Burnett, senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis, however, called the ALA's findings "misleading at best. Their report doesn't match reality." According to Burnett, the ALA report is intentionally misleading. For example:

  • The ALA artificially inflates ozone levels in dozens of counties as compared with official ozone monitoring data, and clean areas of many counties are counted as having dirty air.
  • The ALA grading system is more rigorous than the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed new "8-hour" ozone standard.
  • The ALA assumes 40 percent of people are "sensitive" to and harmed by moderately elevated ozone levels, while research shows only a small fraction of people are.
  • The report implies that air pollution is getting worse, when in fact pollution levels have been dropping for at least 20 years in most areas, and only a handful of metro areas have serious ozone problems.

"Once again the environmental lobby is producing a report to scare people into supporting more stringent regulations," said Burnett. "It's just too bad their report in filled with B.S. - Bad Science."

Source: Anita Manning, "California Has the USA's Worth Air Quality," USA Today, May 1, 2002, and NCPA press release, "Lung Association Report Full of Hot Air," April 30, 2002.

For USA Today text


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