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L.A.’s Sustainability Plan & Its Very Poor Air Quality Report

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled his city’s sustainability plan earlier this week. The plan envisions a city where, by the mid-2030s, 80 percent of the cars run on electricity or zero-emission fuel, 80 percent of the electricity comes from renewable resources and L.A. residents drive 2,000 fewer miles each year than they do now. The city’s buildings, including hotels, would also see big changes. In the mayor’s plan, all new buildings should be “net-zero carbon” by 2030, with the entire building stock converted to zero-emission technologies by 2050. (Click here to read the official press release.)

Los Angeles, long known for its congestion and air pollution, has a long way to go to meet its goals. Just last week, the American Lung Assn. issued its annual “State of the Air” report. Of the 10 most polluted cities for ozone, seven did worse than in last year’s report, including many of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas. Los Angeles’s air quality worsened, and it remains No. 1 for most ozone-polluted city in the nation. The Los Angeles-Long Beach area came in No. 7 on the list of the Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-Term Particle Pollution. On the list of the Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution, Los Angeles came in at No. 5. These are certainly not numbers you want to be bragging about to potential visitors.

According to the American Lung Assn., ozone pollution, often referred to as smog, harms lung health, essentially causing a sunburn of the lung. Specifically, inhaling ozone pollution can cause shortness of breath, trigger coughing and asthma attacks, and may shorten life. Warmer temperatures make ozone more likely to form and harder to clean up.

The association adds that unhealthy particles in the air result from many sources, including wildfires, wood-burning devices, coal-fired power plants and diesel engines. Particle pollution can be deadly. Technically known as PM2.5, these microscopic particles lodge deep in the lungs and can enter the bloodstream, triggering asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes, and can cause lung cancer.

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