County’s Air Fails Smog Check, Report Says

Lung Association ranks region's ozone 8th – worst

San Diego Union-Tribune

April 29, 2010

Look outside on most days and the skies above much of San Diego County look pretty clear — certainly nothing like the grime that hangs over Los Angeles and Riverside counties.

That's not how the American Lung Association sees it. The organization still ranks the San Diego region as having the eighth-worst level of ozone, or smog, pollution in the nation.

In its annual State of the Air report issued Wednesday, the association gave the area an F for having too many days with high ozone and another F for daily counts of certain airborne contaminants.

"This report is a snapshot of the actual pollution people are breathing," said Bonnie Holmes-Gen at the American Lung Association in California.

Exhaust from vehicles is the biggest culprit. The county also suffers from pollutants blown down from the north.

Robert Kard, director of the county's Air Pollution Control District, said residents in coastal areas might not realize how many ozone-forming compounds their vehicles spew because sea breezes push pollution to the east.

But he said the lung association is unfair in suggesting that the local air is terribly dingy.

"Our air quality is generally quite good," Kard said. "It's not perfect."