Our national parks are places of unparalleled natural wonder, historical significance, and cultural value, yet most are plagued by poor air quality that can threaten human health and detrimentally impact park ecosystems.
We may not know the extent of the harm because of inadequate air pollution monitoring which helps track pollution in and around these public lands as part of a robust interagency network. At the same time, climate change is only making these problems worse—magnifying adverse impacts on air quality that disproportionately impacts vulnerable communities.
This report addresses the impacts of poor air quality in parks, examines the legislative mandates for air monitoring, details the existing air monitoring networks, and makes recommendations to improve the air quality monitoring network. Congress must allocate a one-time infrastructure investment of $3.3 million and $2.6 million annually for national park monitoring networks to ensure that robust science guides the enduring protection of our cultural and natural resources for their own sake and that of people’s health.
Air quality monitoring is also community health infrastructure. To protect people and parks Congress must allocate sufficient funds for new equipment and resources requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to expand fenceline monitoring requirements and our nation’s ambient air quality monitoring networks.