In the News
September 18, 2023
September 18, 2023
Cities across the US, particularly those in California where wildfires are common, are often exposed to lower air quality due to a mix of urban pollution and weather effects. But even some rural areas of the country known for their pristine air reached dangerous pollution levels this summer.
So far in 2023, 19 counties in 11 states had days with “very unhealthy” and “hazardous” air quality — given at least a “code purple” alert on the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index — for the first time, a CNN analysis of EPA data shows.
The EPA advises everyone — including healthy people — avoid outdoor activities and close windows and doors when air quality is deemed a code purple, or worse, maroon.
Code red, an alert level below purple, is when air quality may cause serious health effects for sensitive groups, including children and the elderly.
More than a third of Americans — 119.6 million people — live in places with deteriorating levels of ozone or particle pollution, according to a recent report by the American Lung Association. Nearly 8.7 million adults and 1.7 million children with asthma and more than 6.6 million people with cardiovascular disease live in counties with the most air pollution, the report found…
…As climate change intensifies, exposure to higher air pollution levels from wildfires coupled with urban pollution — both in the United States and Canada — will not only lead to short-term health effects but also reduce life expectancy, according to Christa Hasenkopf, director of air quality programs at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).
“In regions where we expect more wildfires, local plans for dealing with them are going to be important,” Hasenkopf told CNN.
This includes how schools are preparing indoor air quality and whether public spaces are adequately prepared for these scenarios.