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LA-Long Beach Area Ranked Worst Nationally For Ozone Pollution

LOS ANGELES ( - Even as the air quality improves in the Southland, the region still ranks as the most polluted in the nation, according to a report released Wednesday.

The Los Angeles region achieved its lowest levels ever for unhealthy ozone days and for year-round particle pollution between 2013-15, but was still ranked worst nationally for ozone pollution, according to the American Lung Association's State of the Air report.

The Los Angeles-Long Beach area region ranked ninth-worst for short-term particle pollution and fifth-worst for year-round particle pollution. The Bakersfield area, meanwhile, ranked worst in the nation for short-term particle pollution.

The State of the Air 2017 report is based on air quality monitoring data collected in 2013-2015 - the most recent years available - and focuses on ozone and particle pollution, the most widespread forms of pollution threatening public health.

"Our state's air quality continues to hit unhealthy levels each year, putting Californians at risk for premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma, COPD, and lung cancer," said Olivia Diaz-Lapham, president and CEO of the American Lung Association in California. "We are seeing continued improvement in parts of the state, but there are too many areas where residents are breathing dirty air and we must work to reduce all sources of air pollution."

While more than 90 percent of Californians statewide are believed to live in areas with unhealthy air quality levels at some point during the year, officials say they've seen some improvement on both the national and state levels.

"We call on President (Donald) Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and members of Congress to fully fund, implement and enforce the Clean Air Act for all air pollutants -- including those that drive climate change and make it harder to ensure healthy air for all Americans," Diaz-Lapham said.

The report also noted that despite overall improvement in air quality, there continues to be "an unrelenting increase in dangerous spikes in particle pollution," which originates from sources such as diesel engine exhaust, wood-burning devices and wildfires.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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