by Anna Giles

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento is among the most smog-polluted cities in the country, according to a ranking done by the American Lung Association.

“We’re seeing the impacts of climate change in Sacramento today it’s not a far off event,” said Will Barrett with the American Lung Association.

Barrett said many cities are seeing worse ozone and short term particle pollution than in years past. Scientists point to the Wine Country fires and Camp Fire as big reasons why Sacramento is struggling.

“2017 — that was some of the worst air quality we had ever seen, and then 2018 happened and again, we set new records for unhealthy air,” Barrett said.

Executive Director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District Alberto Ayala expects next year’s report to also show worsening pollution due to the 2018 Camp Fire.

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“We hit record pollution levels that we have never seen in the past, and for a couple of those days we literally had the worst pollution in the world,” Ayala said.

Sacramento struggles with air quality because of its geographic location between two mountain ranges, according to Ayala. He said the transportation sector is producing the most pollution in the metropolitan area.

“With a growing population, people driving more cars and these cars are still combustion vehicles. That is always a challenge for us and every other state and the country,” Ayala said.

Despite the obstacles, experts say air quality has actually been getting better in Sacramento when you look at a longer timeline.

“We’ve shown significant progress we’ve actually cut unhealthy ozone days down by about 40 percent over 20 years of the report,” Barrett said.

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