These new regulations are deeply necessary and long overdue. After all, people across America regularly breathe polluted air, which increases their risk of premature death, and can trigger asthma attacks and other dangerous health conditions.
In 2018, 108 million Americans lived in areas that experienced more than 100 days of degraded air quality. That is equal to more than three months of the year in which ground-level ozone (the main ingredient in smog) and/or particulate pollution was above the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for “little to no risk.”
Another 157 million Americans lived In areas that faced 31 to 100 days – a month or more – of elevated ozone and/or particulate pollution. Los Angeles topped the list. In 2018 more than 13 million people in that greater metropolitan area grappled with unacceptable levels of polluted air more than 40 percent of the time.
This is bad, but with increasing global warming things could get a lot worse, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Fourth National Climate Assessment.
Notably, rising temperatures will speed up the formation of ozone. People in some regions will experience three to nine more days of ozone pollution at or above the level the EPA considers “unhealthy for sensitive groups” annually by 2050 compared to 2000. In addition, hotter, drier weather will increase the frequency and severity of wildfires, which can spread air pollution for hundreds of miles.
These news rules from the California Air Resources Board won’t solve all our climate change or pollution problems. But they are a step in the right direction and proof that there is momentum to make the right decisions for our planet as well as our health and the health of future generations.