air quality

For much of the last decade, air pollution was decreasing. But it’s now on the rise, particularly in the West.

That’s according to a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. It found that between 2016 and 2018, the levels of fine particulate matter increased 11.5% in the West. California's been impacted the most.

Denver
Rick Kimpel / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a Colorado region missed its air quality standards deadline.

The Coloradoan reports that the EPA is expected to mark the nine-county North Front Range region that includes Denver county in serious noncompliance with a federal standard.

Bennett, Tamura-Wicks et. al. 2019 / https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002856

A pair of scientific reports out this week looked at air pollution and how it’s changed in recent years. The Mountain West looks clean compared to other parts of the country, at first glance.

State health inspectors equipped with infrared cameras dropped in unannounced on about 2,000 oil and gas operations across Colorado last year and found leaks of heat-trapping methane and volatile organic gas at 13 percent of those sites — half the frequency of leaks they detected five years ago.

Every state has a "right-to-farm" law on the books to protect farmers from being sued by their neighbors for the routine smells and noise created by farming operations. But this year, the agriculture industry has been pushing in several states to amend those laws so that they will effectively prevent neighbors from suing farms at all — even massive industrial livestock operations.

Thanks to federal regulations, our outdoor air has half the emissions from harmful gases that it had four decades ago.

Sounds great, right? Except Americans spend around 90 percent of their lives indoors, according to an EPA-funded study.

So what do we know about the air we breathe inside? Turns out, very little.

Here’s The New Yorker’s Nicola Twilley:

You've probably heard statistics about how our diet affects the health of the planet. Like how a beef hamburger takes considerably more water and land to produce than a veggie burger or that around a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions stem from food production.

Several members of a powerful science panel for the Environmental Protection Agency expressed doubt at a hearing Thursday about the long-established scientific consensus that air pollution can cause premature death.

The panel was meeting to consider recommendations that would fundamentally change how the agency analyzes the public health dangers posed by air pollution and could lead to weaker regulation of soot.

Wildfire smoke reached dangerous levels across the Mountain West Monday. Eastern Washington had the worst air in the country and all 56 counties in Montana were under an air quality alert – possibly the first time that’s happened in the state’s history.

With its breathtaking views, the Mountain West has long been a destination for weddings. But now, some wedding industry workers are seeing fewer couples wanting to get hitched in late summer months because of an increasingly smoky backdrop.

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