Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Beautiful San Luis Obispo drops out of ranking among 10-worst smog traps

The American Lung Association says air quality has improved in San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles. The ozone pollution is no longer among the 10 worst in the country. That’s a step toward reality in the Lung Association’s latest rankings.

San Luis Obispo is tied for 25th now with Tulsa and St. Louis. It’s more appropriate so this is no criticism of the Lung Association, but I’m still mystified. And it has nothing to do with the rankings.

The reason, I think, is the huge difference between places like Hanford and San Luis Obispo, both of which were mentioned in the same sentence as improving.

Here’s what I mean: The last time San Luis Obispo breached the federal eight-hour standard was 2008. Meanwhile, Hanford’s ozone concentration rose above the federal standard eight times just in 2012.

As I said, this is no criticism of the Lung Association, which has a far more complex way of figuring its rankings than the number of times the ozone exceeds the standard. And San Luis Obispo has been bounced all the way down to the bottom of the list.

But it’s just weird to even be talking about improving air quality in a metropolitan area where the ozone standard is exceeded once or twice in a decade.