California Air Quality

California air quality has long been a know problem. Los Angeles has the reputation for having the worst air pollution in the country, a reputation that’s old and possibly not as deserved as it once was. But, California is such a car-oriented society, air pollution is a given. Add to the car-centric population the geography that has cities lining the coast with mountain backdrops, you get a situation primed for poor air quality, and the health issues that go along with it.

California is known as a state with severe air quality problems. Even though they are associated with air pollution, it doesn’t mean that air pollution first began here. Air pollution began when the first fire was lit many years ago by prehistoric man. And it got worse when the Industrial Revolution was born. London and other large cities were death traps because of the poor air quality. It is nothing new. Unfortunately, California is where photochemical smog was first noticed and this is because many areas in California are more susceptible to it due to the geography of their region.

Photochemical smog is a big contributor to California air quality levels. What exactly is photochemical smog? Photochemical smog is created when the sunlight mixes with certain chemicals, in this case nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons, to create smog. This smog is harmful to people in California, as well as other living things, and is sometimes made even worse by the geography of the land. The bowl-shape geography that many areas of California have, traps pollutants during the times of thermal inversions. This makes the photochemical smog even worse, which makes health problems worse. It’s a vicious cycle.
The most common health problems that can be attributed to photochemical smog are respiratory problems. The elderly and those with respiratory conditions like asthma are most susceptible to breathing and lung problems because of photochemical smog. Some experts say lung cancer can be attributed to pollution and photochemical smog, too. That’s just one reason you want to be aware of the air quality levels before going outside, especially if you are going to be spending much time outdoors or if you are susceptible to respiratory problems. By knowing when it is safe to go outdoors, you can help reduce some of your breathing difficulties that can be exacerbated by smog and exposure to other pollutants.
What causes photochemical smog? The release of nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons is the biggest cause of photochemical smog. Sunshine is another cause, but it cannot be controlled. Automobiles and other forms of transportation are the major things that release this kind of pollution.
What can be done to decrease photochemical smog? By finding alternative fuels, driving motorized vehicles less, using home and office energy more wisely, and switching to hybrid cars, we can make a big difference in the amount of pollution that is released and we can help make California’s air quality safer for everyone. This takes change by everyone however, and here is where we have difficulties. Change is hard for most people, and they are not open to changing the ways that they do things. That will take continued education and increased governmental regulations.
I don’t believe in the government regulating such things, unless the implications are big and impacting lots of people. You can’t regulate stupidity, but you can regulate actions that come from lack of knowledge and understanding.
California air quality is something that is continuing to evolve. People are trying to improve the quality in California, but more changes need to be made, especially by the citizens. This really is the key to change and improvement.
If everyone would just make one little change by driving their car less or choosing to walk instead of drive, we could make a big difference. Or if people were more energy conserving and careful with their consumer choices, California air pollution would be much less a problem. California air quality is not just about the people who live in California, it’s about everyone around world. By everyone making a change, we could all make a difference and make the world a healthier place to live.

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