As Many Stay Home, L.A.'s Air Quality Is Better Than It's Been in Decades


If there’s a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic it may be that the health crisis, which has resulted in the most drastic economic shutdown in Los Angeles history, has also produced the longest stretch of clean air the city has seen in more than a generation.

‪The March 2020 air quality index compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency confirms what millions of Angelenos can see just by looking out the window: ‪the brownish haze that customarily settles atop the city on weekday afternoons has lifted and visibility has cleared for miles in every direction since the “safer at home” order was imposed.

‪Last month, Los Angeles experienced the longest stretch of days of “good” air since at least 1980. The federal agency’s online data goes back no further, but one expert suspects that L. A.’s air hasn’t been this clean since around the time the United States entered the Second World War. Cody Hill, an energy company executive based in the Bay Area, posted a graphic of the EPA data to his Twitter account and wrote that, in terms of air quality, March may well have been “one of the best months at least since the 1940s, when there was huge migration as we ramped up aircraft production in the L.A. basin to fight WW2.”

Los Angeles had the cleanest air ever recorded there in March 2020. Astounding chart from the EPA. This is mostly from reduced driving with the same vehicle fleet. It could be the new normal and ~13 million people living there would be healthier if we electrify transportation.

‪The notorious L. A. smog starts as a cloud of traffic emissions that’s spewed into the air during the morning rush hour. This layer of air pollution is then held in place by a combination of the Southland’s topography and its prevailing weather patterns, and baked for hours in SoCal’s warm ultraviolet rays, an effect that air-quality experts liken to a pot of soup heating on a stove.

‪There’s no question... (Read more)

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