Booster Shots

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The air is sick, and so are we

March 2, 2010 | 12:00 pm

We Southern Californians tend to forget that we don't breathe healthful air. More Californians live in areas that don't meet federal air quality standards than residents of any other state. Despite many efforts to improve air quality in the last two decades, the air remains polluted. People who live near freeways or inland have especially poor air quality.

Living this way has consequences. According to a report released Tuesday by the RAND Corp., air pollution in California caused more than $193 million in hospital-based medical care from 2005-07. These were costs related to cases of pneumonia and asthma triggered by poor air quality.

The report estimates that high levels of ozone and particulate matter caused nearly 30,000 emergency room visits during the study period. The biggest problem created by pollution is asthma attacks among children under age 17 -- an estimated 12,000 emergency room visits attributed to air pollution.

The report is titled "The Impact of Air Quality on Hospital Spending."

-- Shari Roan

Photo: Los Angeles skyline. Credit: Nick Ut  /  AP