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By Tim Hunt

What's up with lung association rankings?

Uploaded: May 4, 2017

Two news stories about air pollution caught my eye recently.
The first announced that the Bay Area Regional Air Quality Control Board had adopted stringent new regulations to battle climate change as well as further clean up the air. Toward the bottom of the article in the East Bay Times, it read ”Air pollution has declined sharply in the Bay Area over the past few decades.
“The estimated number of premature deaths from air pollution in the Bay Area has declined from 8,300 annually in 1990 to 2,500 in 2015 according to the air district.” Reporter Denis Cuff wrote the piece. The air board director voted 18-0 to establish the new regulations.
Four days later, the Bay City News Service reported the American Lung Association had labeled the Bay Area as having the sixth most unhealthy days in the entire United States.
Come again?
The air board essentially takes a victory lap and then the non-profit advocacy group comes out and says just the opposite. One key is how the lung group expanded the Bay Area to include San Joaquin and San Benito counties—a unique definition. It grew the Bay Area from the traditional nine counties to 11.
That allowed the dirty air days in San Joaquin to be melded into the Bay Area and skew it—thus the misleading conclusion. The report noted that coastal counties—San Francisco, Marin, Santa Cruz and Sonoma—had no days with unhealthy ozone levels.

The worst air issues in the state are in the southern San Joaquin Valley where the air can be stagnant winter or summer and there’s lots of agricultural activity plus fog in the winter. That’s where innovative approaches to improving air quality can make a health difference.
The air agency is governed by a board of 24 elected officials. Locally, they include Alameda County supervisors Nate Miley and Scott Haggerty, both of whom represent the Livermore Valley, as well as San Ramon Councilman Dave Hudson.
The board unanimously adopted rules designed by the year 5050 to reduce greenhouse gases 80 percent below 1990 levels. Just how much that will cost the economy is never part of the air board’s consideration nor the question about just what positive impact upon the climate the new rules will have. Remember, climate change is a theory based upon assumptions.
The air board will spend $4.5 million annually toward the goal. No telling what it will cost industry and the end-users—consumers.