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Bay Area Gets Failing Grades in Air Quality Report Due to Wildfire Smoke

Don’t let the blue skies out your window fool you. A new report published by the American Lung Association slapped counties in the Bay Area with a big fat "F" in air quality.

The report blames devastating wildfires and rising temperatures for the region's low marks.

The report says all the progress Californians made by cutting down on emissions from cars and factories has been wiped out thanks to wildfires and climate change.

"I remember when the fire was on, we were looking," Oakland resident Sam Bookin said. "We had the worst air quality in the world."

People used to envy the Bay Area for it clean, clear air. But there’s nothing desirable about the Bay Area’s poor rankings on the American Lung Association’s 2019 State of the Air Report. Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties all scored Fs for their levels of harmful ozone and particle pollution, using data from 2015 through 2017.

"If getting a low grade causes politicians or communities to try and do more, then that’s great because I don’t personally feel offended that we got an F," Bookin said.

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District says even though the region has made progress in reducing smog, the report shows all that hard work essentially is gone. The district says climate change is essentially "supercharging" wildfires, and millions in the Bay Area are paying the price with their lungs.

"This report is really showing the wildfire impact we’ve had over the past few years, and we expect this trend unfortunately to continue well into our future," district spokeswoman Kristine Roselius said.

The Environmental Protection Agency disagrees with the low rankings, releasing the following statement: "The Lung Association paints a pessimistic picture based upon a problematic methodology. EPA methods for determining air quality, which are based on the Clean Air Act and the latest science, show continued improvements in measures of U.S. air quality in recent years and into the future."

The ALA report did not factor in the pollution caused by the Camp Fire in Butte County last year, meaning don't expect next year's State of the Air report to show much of an improvement for the Bay Area.

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