This story hits home in more ways than one since I live in Long Beach, California. Although Long Beach is a fun city, we pay a high price living in such a highly polluted Californian city.
Los Angeles & Long Beach Most Ozone-Polluted Cities In The U.S.
Living in California is a dream for many. For those who manage to move here, that dream is shattered by the reality of an expensive life and another much more insidious problem — unlike TV shows may make you think, the ocean is really, really cold. Joking apart, what you rarely hear about living here is the high level of pollution and how to curb it. Our city and state politicians are proud painting mighty pictures of their leadership and congratulating themselves on a job well done, but there is much, much more to do and time is now of the essence.
The reality of things is that the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors are gigantic entities where a multitude of polluting streams converge. This activity helped the state to become the 5th largest economic power in the world, but part of the price to pay for that comes from the pollution created at the second largest port in the US. This is where trains, cars, trucks, boats, and highways collaborate for disastrous consequences on local residents. Oh, and yes, there is also an international airport in the city.
According to the Pediatric Asthma Organization, local Hudson Elementary School has a plunging view of the 710 freeway where an average of 600 trucks go back and forth daily not that many feet away. Some of these trucks come from south of the border, where the diesel quality is more sulfur-rich and other particulates are not as strongly regulated as in this country. These diesel trucks spew more particulates than the domestic ones that are held to more stringent emissions standards. This results in children going to schools near such highways suffering early from asthma and having lungs that never fully develop.
In order to continue as is, powerful lobbies have helped squash any effort to remedy the situation permanently. The city of Long Beach even once refused a measly $5 surcharge tax on containers that would have gone to help children going to schools near the ports and highways. The Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma (LBACA) says it’s no coincidence that many Hudson students, as well as many others throughout Long Beach, suffer from asthma.
Sadly enough, the only two cities not in the top 10 of ozone-polluted cities that are not in California’s pollution belt are Phoenix in the 8th spot and New York in 10th. Planetizen asks two important questions we are all familiar with: “Since California is known for its strict environmental regulations, why are so many cities from the state typically on this list?” And then there’s the “Southern California Air Quality Paradox” — with emissions dropping, why is air quality getting worse?
California Is A Hot Bed, Period
It’s true that California leads the EV and renewable energy industry, at least in terms of policies and sales (even if China takes the global production and market limelight). But the state pays a heavy price both in terms of affordability, high vehicle miles traveled, and the highest levels of pollution in the USA. If this is what it means to achieve the #5 global economic position, it’s a very steep price for our children’s health and the consequences being pushed to another generation — a price we’re perhaps not considering well enough.
But it’s not just about California dreamin’ — it’s also the role the rest of the country plays in these ports. It’s easy to understand why the cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the most polluted cities in the US when you consider that 90% of imports from Asia transit through the harbors. Less consumption would be good for our health, but we also clearly need electric boats, electric trucks, and electric vans.
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