Map of the Day: Pollution in California

A new interactive map ranks California zip codes based on factors including air quality, pesticide use, groundwater, and traffic density.

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If you've ever flown into Los Angeles, you know about the layer of smog visible in the horizon. But as Nate Berg pointed out in 2011, five of the ten cities with the worst air pollution in the country were located in the state's Central Valley — the same swath of state that produces a large chunk of the nation's food.

This new interactive map makes that point really clear. Released by the California Environmental Protection Agency earlier this week, the map stems from a report [PDF] that ranks California zip codes based on factors including air quality, pesticide use, groundwater, and traffic density as well as population and socioeconomic data.

The darkest colors on the map indicate the cities in the highest percentiles (aka, most impacted by pollution). As the Los Angeles Times noted, three of the top 10 places are in the newspaper's home county. But see the dark blue strip running through the state? That's the Central Valley, home to the state's most-impacted zip code, in the city of Fresno.

Top image: Screenshot of California Environmental Protection Agency interactive map.

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