Using data gathered between 2011 and 2013, the report evaluated California’s main metropolitan areas based on the levels of ozone (the main ingredient of smog), and measurable particles that built up in the air.
The report found that the Central Valley had the most airborne particulate pollution, while Los Angeles County was the smoggiest over the observed time period.
How does drought affect the air?
In dry conditions, soils lose moisture and dust is released into the atmosphere.
When there’s little precipitation, this dust — particulate pollution — is trapped closer to the ground. These particles end up in people’s lungs, contributing to a whole range of respiratory infections and asthma attacks, reports the USA Today.
This lack of moisture on the earth’s surface can contribute to even hotter weather, allowing ozone to collect and smog to form, further reducing air quality. And that’s not to mention the increased likelihood of wildfires, and the drying up of California’s groundwater supply.
But Californians are trying hard to conserve their water. California Governor Jerry Brown declared the drought an emergency situation in January of last year, and increased water reduction targets to 25% of 2013 levels.
As of Tuesday, when October usage had been compiled, Californians narrowly missed the mark, reducing their water consumption by 22.2%, the LA Times reports.
Though a minor dip, this is the first month that Californians have missed their target, and comes on the heels of the worst heat wave in 25 years.
“I was relieved,” State Water Resources Control Board Chairperson Felicia Marcus told the LA Times. “That indicates continuous, conscious efforts by Californians — they haven’t eased up.”
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