New Report: Central Valley Continues to Experience Worst Air Quality in the United States

bad air day sunset , photo by Esmeralda Garcia

By Pedro Hernandez, The Ivanhoe Sol

The 24th annual “State of the Air” report from the American Lung Association has shown that while air quality has improved for various parts of the county, areas like Tulare County continue to face significant pollution levels. Harold Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association says,“the fact is that 120 million people still live in places with unhealthy air pollution, and not all communities are seeing improvements. This is why it is crucial to continue our efforts to ensure that every person in the U.S. has clean air to breathe.”

To reach their conclusions, the American Lung Association examines pollution sources like ozone or particulate matter – microscope particles that can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks, and strokes. Moreover, the report also considers various components of social vulnerability such as sensitive populations like children, the elderly, asthma rates, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy, and poverty levels. 

The report demonstrates that south San Joaquin Valley continues to experience the worst air quality in the county. For example, the greater Visalia region ranked in the top five for “cities most polluted by year-round particulate pollution”, “cities most polluted short-term particle pollution”, and “cities most polluted by ozone pollution”.  Even further, for some categories like short-term particle pollution, California has 15 out of the top 20 counties for pollution.


This year’s reports finds:

  • More than 1 in 3 Americans live in places with unhealthy levels of air pollution 
  • Climate change is making the job of cleaning up the air more difficult 
  • People of color are 3.7 times more likely than white people to live in a county with three failing grades.
  • The number of people living in counties with failing grades for daily spikes in deadly particle pollution was 63.7 million, the most ever reported under the current national standard.

For more information and to read the entire report, please visit the American Lung Association’s website at


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