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Air Pollution Spikes in California

October 14, 2002

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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ California has endured its worst air pollution season in several years, reversing what had been years of improvements to the state’s air quality.

All of Orange County and parts of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties have experienced 49 days when ozone readings exceeded federal standards, according to data collected by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. That is a 36 percent increase over last year.

Experts said smog levels were up across the state as a result of hot, dry weather along with a series of wildfires that polluted the air over formerly smog-free places such as Death Valley National Park and the eastern Sierra Nevada.

Los Angeles, however, and the southern part of Los Angeles County fared better, recording no days this year when ozone readings exceeded federal standards. Readings that exceed federal standards can cause headaches, nausea or shortness of breath.

In the Sacramento area, air violated the federal ozone standard on 10 days _ more than three times as many violations as last year, officials report.

``High heat, calm winds, temperatures over 100 degrees for days on end. That is the perfect recipe for smog stew, and that’s what we had this year,″ said Kerry Shearer, spokesman for the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.

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