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Smog is ugly, and its health effects aren't very pretty either

April 28, 2010 |  8:27 pm

Air Sure, the weather here is great, but .... The American Lung Assn. has released its annual report card on the nation's air quality, and it's good news only for those who take dark delight in the stereotype  of Los Angeles as perpetually cloaked in smoggy, choking, stifling air.

Once again, the metropolitan area came out on top  (bottom?) in terms of ozone. Bakersfield won the short-term particle pollution competition (although other California areas put up a good fight) and the Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale area nailed the year-round particle pollution competition.

Here's the story from Wednesday's Los Angeles Times: Los Angeles is still the nation's smoggiest city

The association's California policy director, Bonnie Holmes-Gen, is quoted as saying: "This is not just a nuisance or a bother.... Thousands of people are being rushed to emergency rooms. Thousands of people are dying early as a result of air pollution.... It is a crisis."

Perhaps you're not moved. Perhaps you're starting to tune out the laments about the quality of Los Angeles air. That's understandable in a way. But check out our coverage exploring the health effects of bad air.

- Take a deep breath -- more bad news on air pollution: The consequences of breathing bad air is linked to appendicitis and ear infections, new studies indicate.

Smoggy day? Exercise caution: Poor air quality can trip up even the healthiest outdoor buff. Pay attention to daily reports and your body's reactions.

It's worse than dirty: L.A.'s notorious air pollution is hardest on kids. The closer to a freeway they live, play or attend school, the more likely it is that their developing lungs' capacity will be reduced.

Not moved? What if we were to tell you that pollution is making us fat? (Some people have actually suggested this.) 

Here's the thinking behind that proposed connection, explained in the article We're fat because...

(We don't blame you for being unconvinced -- but still, it's probably best not to simply accept pollution as a fact of life.)

Here's the State of the Air report and a synopsis of health risks. Then there's this roundup on pollution information from MedlinePlus. It includes links to clinical trials exploring the effects of bad air; separate looks at nitrogen dioxide, lead, smoke and other pollution components; even a plain-English  guide to the Clean Air Act. 

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: Deep breaths are only relaxing if they don't make you cough.

Credit: Associated Press