California’s Dirty Air Causes Serious Health Problems and Costs Millions

Statement by Jane Warner, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California

Sacramento, CA (March 10, 2010)

It is well documented that California’s dirty air contributes to serious health problems including asthma, lung and heart disease. Now a recent RAND Corporation’s report Up in Smoke estimates the costs related to these and other adverse health problems from pollution exposure. The state’s dirty air costs $193 million in hospital and emergency room visits between 2005 and 2007. In fact, the report found that California’s failure to meet federal air-quality standards led to nearly 30,000 hospital admissions and emergency room visits in just three years. This data doesn’t include the costs of doctors’ visits for chronic health problems caused by dirty air or premature deaths.  

This study is a wake-up call, especially to our political leaders, that dirty air is not only costing lives, but is driving-up health care costs that California can ill-afford. The problem is particularly serious in areas that have the most significant ozone problems such as Sacramento, Fresno, Bakersfield and the Los Angeles region. This data also reinforces what the American Lung Association has found since it began grading air quality in all U.S. counties in 1999, and will likely be shown in this year’s State of the Air Report 2010 to be released on April 28 - California continues to struggle with a serious pollution problem across the state, causing serious harm to the health and well-being of our citizens and costing the state millions.

California needs to focus on cleaning-up pollution sources like motor vehicle engines and fuels, especially dirty diesel engines, to meet clean air standards, improve the health of our citizens and reduce health care costs. The American Lung Association in California is continuously working hard to make this happen.  

For more information, click here.