Despite some improvements, L.A. smog continues to kill

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Many Angelenos still remember the perpetual brown haze that hung over the city as recently as the late 90s. And although Southland air quality has improved considerably since those smoggy days, a new study suggests the City of Angels still deserves its reputation as America’s air pollution capital.

Researchers with the American Thoracic Society (ATS) and the Marron Institute at New York University found that pollution from ozone and small particles caused 7,140 deaths in 2017 nationwide, along with 15,680 serious illnesses. Of those, nearly a third came from California, and mostly Los Angeles or Riverside.

The researchers also found that although those figures are an improvement compared to deaths and illnesses in 2010, recent policy changes by the Trump Administration could undercut improvements, in particular the recent repeal of the Clean Power Plan.

“Data from the EPA itself predicts that this repeal will result in hundreds of deaths and thousands of morbidities that would have been prevented under the Clean Power Plan,” the study’s authors warned.

In fact, a new study has found conclusive evidence that clean air policies aren’t only good for the environment, but also lead to a decline in childhood asthma. According to a study published Tuesday in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, a 20 percent decline in tailpipe emissions and fine particle pollution over the past 25 years corresponded to a 20 percent decline in the rate of new asthma cases in children.

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