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Fresno Air Pollution Among Worst in Nation, Study Finds



A recent report by the American Lung Association has revealed that Fresno continues to face severe air pollution challenges, ranking among the worst in the United States. The city has consistently struggled with poor air quality due to a combination of factors, including vehicle emissions, agricultural operations, and industrial activities.

Key Findings of the Study:

  • Fresno ranked 6th worst for year-round particle pollution (PM2.5) among U.S. cities above 100,000 population.
  • The city also ranked 5th worst for short-term exposure to particle pollution (PM2.5).
  • Fresno's air quality exceeded federal health standards for particle pollution on 100 days in 2022, a significant increase from the previous year.
  • The study highlighted the health risks associated with prolonged exposure to air pollution, including respiratory problems, heart disease, and cancer.

Air Pollution Sources:

  • Vehicle Emissions: Fresno has a high volume of traffic, with numerous major highways and roads passing through the city. Vehicle exhaust is a major contributor to particle pollution, particularly diesel engines.
  • Agricultural Operations: The San Joaquin Valley, where Fresno is located, is a major agricultural region. Dust from farming and livestock operations can contribute to particulate matter in the air.
  • Industrial Activities: Fresno is home to various industrial facilities, including food processing plants, oil refineries, and chemical manufacturers. These facilities emit pollutants into the atmosphere, including particulate matter and hazardous air pollutants.

Health Impacts of Air Pollution:

Exposure to air pollution can have significant health consequences:

  • Respiratory Problems: Air pollution irritates and inflames the lining of the lungs, causing coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Long-term exposure can lead to chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma.
  • Cardiovascular Disease: Air pollution increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. It can damage blood vessels and increase blood pressure.
  • Cancer: Some air pollutants, such as diesel exhaust, are associated with an increased risk of lung cancer.
  • Premature Death: Long-term exposure to air pollution can reduce life expectancy by several years.

Efforts to Improve Air Quality:

Recognizing the severity of air pollution in Fresno, local and state authorities have implemented measures to address the issue:

  • Transportation Initiatives: Promoting the use of electric vehicles and cleaner modes of transportation, such as cycling and public transit, to reduce vehicle emissions.
  • Agricultural Practices: Encouraging farmers to adopt sustainable practices that reduce dust and particulate matter emissions from agricultural operations.
  • Industrial Regulations: Implementing stricter regulations and enforcement on industrial facilities to limit air pollution.
  • Air Monitoring and Forecasting: Establishing a network of air quality sensors to monitor air pollution levels and provide alerts to the public when air quality is poor.


The American Lung Association's report highlights the ongoing challenges faced by Fresno with regard to air pollution. The city's poor air quality poses significant health risks to its residents, particularly those with respiratory conditions or cardiovascular disease. While efforts are underway to improve air quality, addressing this complex issue requires a multifaceted approach involving local and state authorities, businesses, and the general public. By working together, Fresno can strive to create a cleaner and healthier environment for its residents.

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