An unfortunate mix of factors including dry weather and unusually high ozone pollution has generated the worst smog Southern California has experienced since 2009. In the badly hit areas such as Inland Empire, asthma patients visit their doctor’s office like never before hoping to find a way to alleviate their condition’s symptoms.
Doctors noted that high levels of ozone can only make asthma worse, and in Southern California the gas stayed above federal limits for 91 days this year as compared to last year’s 67 days. Two months ago, the region has experienced just four days of healthy air. Last month, ozone levels exceeded federal levels for 30 days in a row.
Experts don’t expect the situation to improve this month since in the first days, ozone pollution has already exceeded the federal standard of 70 parts per billion.
Researchers also said that Southern California saw this summer the highest concentrations of ozone in 17 years. On July 22, the air pollutant had a 164 parts per billion reading. Philip Fine of the South Coast air district explained that the bad days aren’t over yet since the region is halfway through the ozone pollution season.
The researcher believes that the smoke was triggered by the hot, dry days and several pollution-trapping atmospheric layers. Experts don’t think that greenhouse gas emissions have caused the smog. Furthermore, wildfires have also made situation worse in Southern California.
The worst hit were patients affected by asthma and allergies. Many patients have complained that the air quality is so low that they sometimes need to stay indoors to avoid breathing problems and throat inflammation.
Asthma patients also reported more wheezing episodes in recent months which prompted them to use their inhalers more frequently. This is why many of them choose to go outside in the evening hours when smog is not as bad. Garry Attridge from Rancho Cucamonga noted that the air can get so thick one can almost taste it.
Experts explained that the surge in smog is caused by the absence of storms due to the drought. Without these storms, which have an air-cleansing function, smog and air-borne fine particles can no longer be cleared. But air quality researchers said that things could get a lot worse. They recalled the smog cloud that nearly choked L.A. in the 1970s and 1980s.
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