Study finds 96% of national parks have hazardous air quality

Millions of tourists will head out into America’s national parks this summer in search of fresh mountain air. But according to a new report they should instead expect dangerous levels of pollution; roughly 96% of the nation’s parks are struggling with significant air quality issues.

The report, released by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), found that some of the most popular parks, including Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Joshua Tree national parks and Mojave national preserve, were among the worst offenders. Last year, these parks recorded up to two months where ozone levels were considered dangerous –mostly in summer when visitation is at its highest.

The actions that need to be taken to safeguard the parks are the same needed to combat climate change and defend public health. Bad air quality can cause lung damage, harm immune systems and increase inflammation, having lasting impact on the health of rangers and visitors. It also causes irreversible damage to the parks themselves. Ozone has the ability to affect soil, burn plants and harm habitats.

Advocates believe the problems will only get worse as the Trump administration continues to repeal regulations and push for more drilling on public lands. The administration has overseen an 85% drop in EPA pollution enforcement.

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