New Report Gives San Diego's Air a Bad Grade

A new report card states that Riverside and San Diego Counties are among the nation's top 25 smoggiest. Based on ozone levels from 2005 through 2007, San Diego ranks 20th worst and Riverside County ranks 2nd worst. The report was released by the American Lung Association on Wednesday.

"Millions of Californians are at risk because of our dirty air," said Tony Gerber, a San Francisco doctor and a volunteer with the American Lung Association, in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

Monitoring has shown that in San Diego County, high pollution levels are largely limited to the hills around Alpine. Also, in Riverside County, ozone levels are much lower in the Temecula-Murrieta area than in Riverside, reported our media partner the North County Times.

"You'll see the sky get bluer and bluer the farther south you go (in Riverside County). So lumping Temecula in with all of Riverside County is not really good science in my opinion," said David Gemmill, a meteorologist who formerly worked for UC Riverside's environmental research center and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The State of the Air report looks at two of the most widespread air pollutants—ozone and particle pollution—that can cause a host of alarming symptoms that range from shortness of breath and asthma attacks, to chest pain, heart attacks and even premature death. But, the association has come under fire for allegedly overstating the number of people at risk of falling ill or dying prematurely, the North County Times reported.

The American Lung Association uses these reports to push its agenda of tighter controls on auto emissions and urge drivers to drive less.

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