Ground-level ozone pollution at California's Sequoia National Park is so bad, the Associated Press reports the exposure to the lung irritant is now also affecting ponderosa and Jeffrey pines.
How does ozone exposure affect California's pines?
Park visitors notice yellowing needles, which are indicative of ozone absorption. Instead of taking up carbon dioxide during the photosynthesis process, the trees absorb ozone. Trees unable to photosynthesize eventually weaken and become easier targets for pest infestations.
Which national parks are most affected?
The Associated Press notes Sequoia National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Yosemite National Park and Mojave National Preserve top the list of those with air pollution.
What are the cities with the worst reputation for ozone pollution?
As outlined by the American Lung Association, Los Angeles tops the list of America's metropolitan areas with the worst ozone pollution. Other California cities making the list include Visalia, Bakersfield, Fresno, Hanford, Sacramento, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Merced, Modesto, El Centro, Chico and Stockton.
Where does ground-level ozone come from?
The California Environmental Protection Agency's Air Resources Board explains ground-level ozone is a "component of smog … capable of damaging living cells." Polluters include automobiles, industrial plants and some consumer products. When the weather is hot and sunny, the concentration of ozone in the atmosphere worsens. Another component is the absence of windy weather, which further supports the formation of high ozone concentration in California's atmosphere.What are the possible long-term effects?
If the pines are unable to photosynthesize for prolonged periods, they weaken. Even if pests do not attack these trees, drought and cold weather conditions might have a greater effect on the pines. They might fail to produce the seeds that provide nutrition for a variety of animals, become unable to develop a strong root system that can withstand high winds, and die much more quickly than healthy specimens may.
Are there health tips for visitors to Sequoia National Park?
The National Park Service warns ozone pollution at Sequoia National Park spikes from May to October. To assist visitors with staying safe and planning strenuous activity accordingly, the visitor's bureau releases a daily air quality report.
Sylvia Cochran is a Los Angeles area resident with a firm finger on the pulse of California politics. Talk radio junkie, community volunteer and politically independent, she scrutinizes the good and the bad from both sides of the political aisle.