Sure, we know that cities can be congested and polluted, but at least we have the national parks to escape to when we want to breathe in some fresh air, right?

Wrong. According to a new report released by the National Park Conservation Association, 96 percent of all parks experience significant air pollution problems.

The bipartisan nonprofit organization published a report, “Polluted Parks: How America is Failing to Protect our National Parks, People and Planet from Air Pollution” that analyzed air quality in 417 parks. Their findings assess the impact on nature, hazy skies, unhealthy air and climate change.

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“The poor air quality in our national parks is both disturbing and unacceptable. Nearly every single one of our more than 400 national parks is plagued by air pollution. If we don’t take immediate action to combat this, the results will be devastating and irreversible,” said President of the National Park Conservation Association Theresa Pierno.

Although most national parks are located in areas of so-called pristine wilderness, air travels widely and freely. The Grand Canyon, for example, is down-wind from a coal-fired power plant, a mine and multiple industrial pollution sources that reach the park from both Mexico and California.

The report is also filled with many alarming findings, including:

  • 85 percent of national parks have air that is unhealthy to breathe at times
  • 89 percent of national parks have haze pollution
  • 88 percent of national parks have soil and water affected by air pollution
  • 80 percent of all national parks will be directly impacted by climate change, with 100 percent indirectly impacted

“America’s national parks are some of the most beloved places on earth and provide once in a lifetime experiences, but the iconic wildlife and irreplaceable natural and cultural resources that make these places so special are being seriously threatened by climate change and other effects of air pollution,” said Stephanie Kodish, the Clean Air Program director for the National Parks Conservation Association.

330 million people visit America’s national parks every year, and most are in search of fresh air. The solution to ensuring our national park air remains fresh and clean is the same strategy for protecting clean air everywhere: reduce fossil fuel emissions and switch to clean energy sources. Air quality experts had reported positive results of the Clean Air Act, however, the current administration has rolled back on environmental regulations and invested in the fossil fuel industry.

Via Tree Hugger

Image via PELSOP