Children, the elderly, athletes, outside workers and those suffering from respiratory disease, such as asthma, are the most vulnerable to air pollution. Children breathe more air pound for pound than adults and spend more time outdoors. They also have rapidly growing and maturing respiratory systems, which are susceptible to injury. The elderly often have underlying heart or lung problems and have less adaptive capacity than younger adults.
Developing fetuses are also vulnerable to air pollution. Exposure to carbon monoxide can reduce the amount of oxygen that the fetus receives, and it is also associated with reduced birth weight.
Recent work has documented that those living in poverty have a 1.35 times higher burden of particulate matter exposure than did the overall population in the U.S., and people of color have 1.28 times higher burden.
California continues to stand out as having some of the worst air quality of the nation. In a recent report by the American Lung Association, Los Angeles was the city with the worst ozone pollution and Bakersfield, CA, ranked as the city with the worst short-term particle pollution. Visalia-Porterfield-Hanford, CA, is the most-polluted city for year-round particle pollution.