Air in the U.S. is Becoming Increasingly Hazardous as Pollutants Rise to 2004 Levels

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Climate research has found that two decades worth of efforts to reduce air pollution will soon be reversed, with air pollutant levels in the U.S. approaching those found in 2004. These effects are particularly pronounced on the West Coast, where the increase in wildfire incidence has caused an extreme rise in exposure to the contaminant P.M. 2.5, which can cause numerous health issues and has been estimated to cause about 47,000 deaths in the U.S. per year. Wildfires are also releasing ground-level ozone, which can lead to dangerous lung inflammation. As a result of these rising P.M. 2.5 and ozone levels, over 83 million people in the U.S. are now exposed to unhealthy air pollution levels, with 10 million of these people exposed to “very unhealthy” levels and 1.5 million of these enduring “hazardous” air quality. Due to these conditions, Los Angeles currently faces 47 days a year when the air is considered unsafe for sensitive groups, which make up about 70% of California’s population and include the very young, the elderly, and those with heart disease and diabetes. In the next 30 years, it is predicted that Los Angeles will face an additional one week of days where it is unsafe to be outside.

To read the full article by Saul Elbein of The Hill, click here.

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