By JEFFREY DREW, Associated PressAUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — California’s statewide air quality soared to a new record for the month of August, with the state’s air pollutants exceeding the national average by more than 400 parts per billion (ppb) on Wednesday.
The average pollution reading in Los Angeles County was nearly 4,000 ppb, which is considered unhealthy for most people, according to the California Department of Health and Human Services.
That’s more than double the national daily reading of about 2,000 pb.
The county was also near the national high for ozone pollution, which includes ozone and nitrogen dioxide, according the California Air Resources Board.
That means that ozone levels were more than twice the national normal and ozone concentrations in the county exceeded the level that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers safe.
“This is a very worrying situation,” California Gov.
Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
“It’s not an exaggeration to say this could be the worst air quality in the world.”
The Los Angeles city of about 1 million people reported its highest level of pollution since the early 1990s.
Newsom called the new air pollution record “a sobering reminder of the urgent need to improve air quality.”
In Portland, Oregon, officials said a fire in a former oil refinery was the main cause of the pollution.
Firefighters were combing through the smoky site to remove more than 1,000 tons of material that had burned since the refinery closed more than two decades ago.
The governor said he was working with the local fire department and the federal government to determine how to best address the pollution, including a new refinery.
In Oakland, a spokesman for the city said firefighters were battling the fires in the industrial zone and were still assessing the damage.