Bad grades for Kern County and Bakersfield in new air report

Bakersfield tops lists for worst air pollution in country

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Over 35 million Californians live in counties affected by unhealthy air according to the American Lung Association.  Bakersfield and Kern topped lists nationally for poor air quality. 

For Bakersfield native Jared Gordon, the bad air hits home.

"I grew up in Bakersfield, so I'm kinda used to it. But our kids, it seems to affect them," said Gordon.

Gordon's youngest son has asthma, needing a machine to help him breath at times and he feels the impact. 

"The poor air quality doesn't help his breathing," Gordon explained.

The American Lung Association's 2017 State of the Air report measures specific types of pollution and its effects across the country.

Particle pollution refers to a mix of tiny solid and liquid particles, like what you see out of dirty truck exhaust. 

Ozone pollution happens when gas from vehicles comes in contact with sunlight, think tailpipes to smog. 

So how did we stack up in Kern County?

"F" for ozone pollution. "F" for particle pollution. "Fail" for annual particle pollution.

Meanwhile Bakersfield took the number one spot out of 186 metropolitan areas for short term particle pollution. 

Bakersfield placed second behind the Visalia area for the worst year round particle pollution. 

And Bakersfield ranked second for highest ozone pollution out of 228 metropolitan areas, just behind Los Angeles.

The health risks according to the ALA?

"Particle pollution is especially risky for cardio vascular harm like heart disease, stroke, it also is greatly risky for people with diabetes and lung cancer," said Janice Nolen of the American Lung Association.

A silver lining for Bakersfield and Kern County regarding ozone pollution? This . 

The ALA's report says the federal Clean Air Act and California's clean air and energy laws have helped drive much of that progress.

It adds that climate change including warmer temperatures, droughts, and wildfires impact California's fight for healthy air.

The ALA says you can help clean up our air by driving less, carpooling, or walking or biking when possible. 

 The subject however is complicated, and the science behind parts of our poor health grades is in dispute.

 A report Sunday by the Bakersfield Californian notes that a recently published scientific study disputes some of the decades-old findings regarding the harmful nature of pm2.5, particulate matter.


The American Lung Association 2017 State of the Air Report: 

The recent study questioning the harmful nature of PM2.5: 

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