After countless heat waves, enormous wildfires, and warming oceanic temperatures, as of September 21, Southern Californians haven’t taken a breath of fresh air in nearly three months.
The smog plaguing Southern California has officially lasted 87 days in a row, the longest we’ve seen in recent history. In fact, Southern California hasn’t had a streak this bad in over 20 years.
The state had taken preventative measures to improve the air quality decades ago. The federal health standard for air pollution claims the air must have no more than 70 ppb of ozone; from June 19 to September 21, however, the air pollution exceeded these levels.
It was recommended that citizens stay inside to preserve their health. Air pollution has a number of ill health effects, including lung damage, cancer, and even dementia. According to the CDC, roughly one in six Americans gets sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages. Imagine how many Americans are getting sick from the air they breathe.
Many Californians should keep their windows closed to maintain indoor air quality and utilize an air conditioner to stay cool. It’s recommended that HVAC systems need twice annual inspections to work at their optimal levels of efficiency, but this number may increase due to the higher levels of pollution.
How does this environmental air pollution stack up against other countries?
The U.S. is one of the richest countries in the world. It also has federally mandated clean air laws that help stem the tide of pollution. However, we rank 23rd for avoiding air pollution. That’s only three places higher than Honduras, one of Central America’s poorest countries. The pollution experienced in Seattle last month was regularly worse than the air quality in Beijing.
There was an estimated 516 deaths per every 100,000 people as a result of air pollution in 2016 alone. With conditions like these, it wouldn’t be surprising to see these numbers go up.
If they do, we could be in serious trouble.
The prevalence of diseases will shoot up. It’s estimated that the smoke from wildfires will lead to an influx of hospital admissions and premature deaths across the country, but specifically in the west and southeast areas of the United States.
Environmental organizations are pleading with Trump to stop rolling back health and safety standards.
As the climate changes, wildfire events such as these are only expected to increase.