Bye bye, blue sky! Smog season is back

April 26, 2018

Smog season is back as warm weather returns and, with it, new threats to air quality: regulatory rollbacks, implementation delays and federal challenges to California’s climate change and emissions control programs. Here’s what USC researchers say about this year’s Air Quality Awareness Week (April 30 – May 4).

Contact: Zen Vuong, (213) 300-1381 or zvuong@usc.edu 


More air pollution, more Alzheimer’s?

“Rolling back regulations now is particularly alarming because the older adult population is set to double, and they face greater health risks from air pollution,” said Jennifer Ailshire, assistant professor at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and assistant professor of sociology and spatial sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Of concern:

  • Air pollution harms the aging brain, recent studies show.
  • Even at levels deemed safe by the U.S. EPA, poor air quality threatens older adults.
  • The growing number of older adults exposed to poor air quality may exacerbate a looming public health crisis: Alzheimer’s disease.

Ailshire is an expert in air pollution and health in older adults, health and retirement, and how neighborhoods and community affect health and well-being.

ailshire@usc.edu, (213) 740‑1707

Air pollution causes cancer

“Everyone has the right to breathe clean air, and our air quality standards should protect public health,” said Sandy Eckel, assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Of concern:

  • The more they look, the more researchers find harmful health effects from smog.
  • The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies air pollution as carcinogenic — strong proof that it causes cancer.
  • Some California cancer patients who lived in smoggy places died sooner than patients who lived in places with cleaner air, according to a recent study.

Eckel studies disease and air pollution. She’s an expert in air pollution, cancer and asthma in children.

eckel@usc.edu, (323) 442-2030


No economic justification to lower fuel performance standards

“There is no economic justification for the current rollback of the fuel economy standards that are being discussed by the Trump administration,” said Antonio Bento, director of the USC Price Environmental Initiative and a professor of public policy and economics at the USC Price School of Public Policy. Of concern:

  • Loosening fuel economy standards will delay attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Despite efforts to reduce local air pollutants, the Los Angeles region continues to be out of compliance with the federal standard for ozone.
  • Ozone levels have plummeted over the past few decades, but they have bounced up slightly due to climate change.

Bento is an expert in environmental and energy economics, transportation policy, climate change policy and environmental regulation.

abento@usc.edu, (213) 821‑1762


Let’s not backtrack on cleaner air

“We need to keep up the progress and not let previous efforts be diluted. Our health and the health of our loved ones depend on it,” said Ed Avol, professor of clinical preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Of concern:

  • Southern California air quality has dramatically improved in the past 40 years.
  • Aggressive emissions control policies and new technologies paced the progress.
  • Decades ago, unhealthful air exceeded then-lax standards about 300 days per year in the L.A. basin.

Avol is an expert in air pollution, air quality trends and health effects of traffic and seaport emissions.

avol@usc.edu, (323) 442-1090