Los Angeles leads 12 other major U.S. cities in the number of hospital admissions and emergency room visits attributed to ground-level ozone pollution, according to a study by the American Lung Association.
Figures compiled from the city's peak smog season in 1993 show that an estimated 10,845 people were hospitalized as a result of such respiratory problems as asthma, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis and emphysema, according to the study.This accounted for 8.5 percent of all hospital admissions for respiratory ailments in Los Angeles from March to November of that year, the Lung Association reported.
In addition, ozone pollution was blamed for sending an estimated 3,615 people to emergency rooms during that period, about 8.5 percent of all respiratory ER visits.
Both in terms of sheer numbers and the share of admissions and ER visits linked to ozone, Los Angeles ranked highest among 13 cities studied by the Lung Association. New York City and San Diego ranked second and third for both admissions and emergency room visits in terms of numbers.
"Though we've seen a lot of improvement in our air quality in Los Angeles, we still have the distinction of having the worst air quality in the country," said Andrew Weisser, a spokesman for the Lung Association.
Other cities included in the study were Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Hartford, Conn., Houston, Milwaukee, New Haven, Conn., Philadelphia, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.
For all 13 cities combined, the ozone was linked to about 10,000 to 15,000 hospital admissions and to between 30,000 and 50,000 emergency room visits during the high-ozone seasons for those areas in 1993 or 1994, the report said.
Ground-level ozone, a type of smog, is a gas produced when sunlight reacts with hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides emitted from the combustion of fossil fuels, particularly automobiles.