American Lung Association: Bakersfield has 3rd worst air in US

American Lung Association: Bakersfield has 3rd worst air in US »Play Video
A haze is seen over Bakersfield in a February 2012 file photo.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report was released Wednesday, showing half of Americans live where air is unhealthy to breathe.

Kern County residents have it worse than most.

Bakersfield ranked No. 3 worst in the nation in three main categories: ozone pollution, short-term particle pollution and annual particle pollution.

FULL RANKINGS: Most polluted >>
FULL RANKINGS: Least polluted >>

The good news: The ALA says 13 of the 25 cities with the worst year-round particle pollution reached their lowest levels yet, including Bakersfield.

Bakersfield improved from the worst in 2013 in short-term particle pollution and year-round particle pollution to the third-worst this year.

KERN COUNTY AIR REPORT CARD >>

All eight counties in the San Joaquin Valley air basin - Kern, Fresno, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tulare - received an "F" for ozone pollution and poor grades for both short-term and annual particle pollution, according to ALA in California.

This year, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Riverside ranks worst for ozone pollution, and Fresno-Madera ranks worst in short-term particle pollution and annual particle pollution.

"San Joaquin Valley remains home to some of the most polluted air in the country, and that means millions of residents are at greater risk for lung cancer, asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature deaths," Dr. Praveen Buddiga, an asthma and allergy specialist, said in an ALA California news release. "Progress has been made, but we must increase our efforts to cut pollution so everyone can breathe clean and healthy air. We need the region to take seriously the threat of pollution on community health and to pursue a vision for healthier neighborhoods where we can walk, bike or take transit instead of having to drive and pollute every day."

The cities with the cleanest air, according to the 2014 report: Anchorage, Alaksa (No. 1 in ozone), Prescott, Arizona (No. 1 in year-round particle pollution) and Asheville-Brevard, North Carolina (No. 1 in short-term particle pollution).