Ana Gonzalez’s son, Jose, played a lot of baseball until the fifth grade, when he started gasping for breath whenever he ran. The next year, at age 12, Jose often was sick: Bouts of pneumonia and bronchitis landed him in the emergency room five times. Finally, doctors told Gonzalez that Jose’s lungs were weakening due to his exposure to polluted air. Jose was developing asthma.

Ana’s family lives in Rialto, in the Inland Empire, where residents are well-acquainted with the brown haze that blankets the San Bernardino Valley. The doctor told Gonzalez he was certain that exposure to smog — air containing a high level of pollutants made up of particles 1/30th the size of a human hair (referred to as PM 2.5 particles) and other emissions — had caused Jose’s illness, and that he wasn’t alone.

Proposition 30, the “Clean Air Initiative” on the November ballot, is aimed at restoring California’s clean air.

Nick Josefowitz, a former BART director, is chief policy officer for SPUR, where he advances policy ideas on sustainability, resilience, housing and transportation in the Bay Area. Shane Ysais, a longtime resident of Chino Hills and Moreno Valley, is communications coordinator at the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice.

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