MAY 12, 2019 9:35 AM PDT

National parks are suffering from air pollution

According to a recent report from the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), almost every one of our national parks is adversely impacted by air pollution and climate change. The report is entitled “Polluted Parks,” and it determined that 96% of national parks are affected by poor air quality and 89% are suffering from haze pollution. That includes the country’s favorites, like Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Joshua Tree, and Mojave national preserve, where last year ozone levels spiked dangerously high during peak summer months.

Sequoia National Park has some of the worst air pollution levels. Photo: Pixabay

This is an issue of public health but also a threat to biodiversity and an exacerbation of climate change. According to the report, elevated levels of air pollution were a direct threat to sensitive species in 88% of parks; wildfire and drought also cause significant concerns and air quality is directly related to these environmental factors.

“We are not doing right by the places that we most cherish,” said Stephanie Kodish, the Clean Air program director for the NPCA. “By protecting these places we are protecting each other, our communities and we are protecting the planet,” she says.

This is not the first study that has exposed the air pollution problems that parks are facing. Last year a different study found that air pollution in parks over the past twenty years has been comparable with that of the 20 largest major metropolitan cities, including Los Angeles and Houston.

Despite the fall in pollution enforcement from the EPA that has happened during the Trump administration, the Clean Air Act requires states to protect national parks and experts are hopeful that new regulations will help reduce air pollution in the near future. One such regulation is the Regional Haze Rule, which, according to The Guardian, requires states to “submit updated plans for how they will address the pollution affecting the parks by 2021, and clean up their acts by 2028. The rule, implemented in 1999, set goals to return the air quality in parks to pre-pollution levels by 2064.”

“I hope that people think about our national parks as bipartisan unifiers. That the connection to our national parks is one that can help preserve our future, our history, our culture,” said Kodish. “For the American people, they should serve as a reminder – and a warning cry.”

Sources: The Guardian, National Parks Conservation Association

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
APR 17, 2020
Technology
APR 17, 2020
Can Technology Really Save Our Planet?
Currently, technology used to respond to climate change includes nuclear fusion power, gaint carbon sinking machines, an ...
MAY 04, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 04, 2020
A Capuchin Monkey's Curiosity Can Sometimes Cloud its Judgement
Capuchin monkeys are highly intelligent animals, but they’re also rather curious. They’ve adapted to communi ...
MAY 07, 2020
Earth & The Environment
MAY 07, 2020
How will Climate Change Impact Arctic Shore Ice?
Many research projects have examined climate change’s impact on sea ice and glaciers. However, shorefast ice, whic ...
MAY 10, 2020
Plants & Animals
MAY 10, 2020
'Murder Hornets' Are Now in the U.S., So Now What?
Most people cringe at the thought of getting stung by a bee, let alone hornets or wasps, with the latter tending to be m ...
MAY 13, 2020
Earth & The Environment
MAY 13, 2020
Air pollution in the era of COVID-19: it's not as simple as you think
While most of the world has been holding its breath during the last several months in response to the global pandemic, t ...
JUN 01, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
JUN 01, 2020
Perchlorate in Drinking Water is More Dangerous Than Thought
Perchlorate dissolves easily and can be found contaminating drinking water in the United States.
Loading Comments...