Healthier, safer summers – brought to you by EPA
Whether your plans include going to a beach, visiting a national park, or just letting your kids play outside in the sprinklers, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plays an important role in making your summer healthier and safer – in ways you might not realize.
Here are four examples of how EPA improves summers for all Americans: Reducing deadly smog Smog comes from pollution emitted from cars, power plants, and other sources.
EPA has worked for decades to reduce smog, most recently when the agency issued new standards for smog in 2015.
Once they’re in effect, those standards will prevent 230,000 asthma attacks among children every year.
Additionally, President Trump’s proposed budget for 2018 cuts funding for the air monitoring that warns families about “Code Red” and “Code Orange” days – the days when air quality reaches unhealthy levels – by almost one third.
Here are a few examples of beach monitoring and cleanup grants distributed by EPA: Lakeview Beach Green Infrastructure Project in the Great Lakes.
President Trump’s proposed budget for EPA would eliminate the beach monitoring grants program, among many other things that could impact the health of our nation’s beaches.
According to the National Park Service, there were over 307 million visits to our national parks last year and those visitors spent $16.9 billion in surrounding communities.
EPA and other agencies monitor visibility at 155 national parks and wilderness areas across the country.
Reducing the pollution contributing to climate change Climate change affects virtually every facet of our lives and can exacerbate all of the problems listed above – more smoggy days, rising sea levels and more pathogens potentially spreading at beaches, and worse haze in our parks.
Rocky mountain haze
Rocky mountain haze.
University of Utah atmospheric scientist Gannet Hallar and colleagues find a correlation between the severity of drought in the Intermountain West and the summertime air quality, particularly the concentration of aerosol particles, in remote mountain wilderness regions.
The link between drought and haze is likely wildfire, the researchers write in Environmental Research Letters.
"If you take that into the future, we’re going to see significant hazing of the West," Hallar says.
Haze in the air is caused by small airborne particles — typically dust, soot, ash or smoke.
Aerosol particles made of organic carbon, such as soot or smoke, can absorb energy, however, warming the climate.
The team, consisting of hydrologists and atmospheric scientists, looked at climate and drought records for the West to see if they could find a connection to the summer mountain haze.
"It’s the fires," Hallar says.
"That has me concerned because climate models are predicting in the future a significant increase in organic aerosol loading."
Hallar hopes that her results highlight the importance of managing the relationship between drought, fire and haze in the West.