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
JAN 27, 2021
Earth & The Environment
How would nuclear war affect fisheries?
JAN 27, 2021
How would nuclear war affect fisheries?
New research published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment contemplates a post-apocalyptic world, ...
FEB 07, 2021
Space & Astronomy
NASA Promotes the Development of Hybrid Aircraft
FEB 07, 2021
NASA Promotes the Development of Hybrid Aircraft
Air travel is thought to be a significant contributor to emissions that lead to climate change. NASA is now launching an ...
FEB 09, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Scientists Spotlight Dangers of Ocean Noise Pollution
FEB 09, 2021
Scientists Spotlight Dangers of Ocean Noise Pollution
Many ocean species use sound to communicate and survive. Sound is a crucial communication method since vision is limited ...
MAR 05, 2021
Plants & Animals
Scientists Heal Diseased Corals
MAR 05, 2021
Scientists Heal Diseased Corals
The world's coral reefs face numerous threats, including climate change, pollution, and habitat loss. Since 2014, an ...
APR 01, 2021
Earth & The Environment
What does lightning in the Arctic mean for the future?
APR 01, 2021
What does lightning in the Arctic mean for the future?
Climate change strikes again -  literally. New findings from a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change ...
APR 05, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Considering the ecological ethics of geoengineering
APR 05, 2021
Considering the ecological ethics of geoengineering
The debate over geoengineering - the idea that we could or should use technology to engineer solutions to cool down the ...
Loading Comments...