A study of US cities has named the Dirtiest City in America as Fresno, California. The Central Valley city can share its shame with other Californian neighbours such as Modesto, Stockton, Bakersfield, San Jose, Riverside, and Los Angeles; all of which suffer from some of the worst air and water pollution in the country.
The environmental degradation of the central valley started decades ago, as each year the local farmers burnt all their leftover cuttings from after the harvest, releasing thousands of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, which then, due to the fact that mountains surround the valley on three sides, could not escape. The vast amounts of fertilizer and pesticides that have been used in the valley by farmers over the years have seeped down into the water table and polluted the regions natural water supply to such an extent that the drinking water regularly gives people a rash, and can give babies the potentially fatal “blue baby syndrome.”
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Fresno is home to sites such as the Fresno Municipal Landfill, which constantly leaks chemicals such as vinyl chloride, and a pesticide factory which polluted the water supply so much that the local residents had to be provided with an alternative water supply.
The EPA released a report last year that water toxicity levels rose more than 170% from 2006 to 2010, with 1.4 million of 3.0 million acres of lakes, bays, wetlands, and estuaries in California not meeting water quality standards. In fact the water pollution in much of the valley is so severe that a study by UC Davis Professor Thomas Harter estimated that it would cost $30 billion a year for 20 years to try and clean just the Tulare Lake Basin and the Salinas Valley; effectively meaning that the Central Valley of California will never be fully rejuvenated.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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